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Making state capitol hearing rooms and Legislative chambers ADA compliant

Members of the Legislature’s Procedures and Arrangements Committee are on board with plans to make Legislative committee rooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

State facilities management director John Boyle told the Committee doors need to be replaced on all but the newest committee rooms, as well as the House and Senate chambers.

"Each of the doors coming into a double-door committee room is 30 inches, and the ADA requires 36 inches," Boyle said. "One of the doors would have to become larger."

Boyle said the average cost per room would be $6000. Boyle also said the rooms would have to be equipped with sound, for people who may be vision-impaired – and that would be another $3000 per room.

Some members of the committee wondered if there might be an issue with historical significance of those entrances.

"It's pretty clear that you cannot 'not' implement ADA just for convenience," Boyle said. "But some of these doors are pretty historic."

Boyle said a master carpenter would be able to create that same historic look.

House Minority leader Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) said he believed the project to make the rooms ADA compliant needs to move forward – while being mindful of the historical nature of the Capitol building.

"I wouldn't want us to be making a decision that says, because of some exclusionary option, due to the historical context of the building, we don't have to make the room accessible," Boschee said.

The Committee chairman -- Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson)  said he believes the project funding needs to be added to the OMB budget.

"We need to move forward with this," Wardner said.

Boyle will come back to the Committee with cost estimates at its next meeting.

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