Expert to check state Capitol security

Posted: Friday, November 02, 2001

The Legislature will hire an expert to survey the Capitol and Terry Miller Legislative Office Building for security vulnerabilities in the wake of national terrorist attacks.

The Legislative Council on Thursday unanimously approved spending up to $8,000 for a security expert to inspect the buildings and to make recommendations to the panel, which represents the Legislature's interests when lawmakers are not in session.

Juneau Democratic Sen. Kim Elton, who serves on the council, urged his colleagues to assess security in other Juneau structures as well, including the Dimond Courthouse, the Governor's Mansion and the State Office Building.

"I think we have a campus security issue," said Elton, adding that the executive branch probably could chip in some money to fund a broader effort.

The council did not act on Elton's suggestion or on four other proposals recommended by Pam Varni, director of the Legislative Affairs Agency, which occupies the Terry Miller building across from the Capitol.

Varni proposed installing key-card systems on seven entrances of the Capitol and on three entrances of the Terry Miller building, at a cost of about $25,000.

"We could look at restricting certain entrances only to Legislators and legislative staff who have their key cards," Varni wrote in a memo.

She also recommended routing all mail through the building's ground floor mail room and posting security guards at the Capitol year-round instead of only during the session.

Another proposal endorsed by Varni would require all visitors to the Capitol to wear identification badges. Rep. Lisa Murkowski objected to that idea, saying it would be too cumbersome to issue badges to the Capitol's many visitors.

"I'd rather have some airport screening device at the front door rather than badges," said Murkowski, an Anchorage Republican.

The council opted to postpone action on the recommendations until the security expert issues a report. The expert probably will survey the buildings later this month, Varni said.

Kathy Dye can be reached at

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