Fences comes down at Minnesota Capitol; layoff notes go out

worker cuts zip ties holding Capitol fence together
Joe Becker with Keller Fence cuts zip ties holding a fence together outside of the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday, June 1.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The fence that had surrounded the Minnesota Capitol since the unrest over the death of George Floyd began coming down Tuesday, although officials have yet to set a date for reopening the statehouse to the public.

Crews removed the tall chain-link fence from the front of the building and expected to haul away most of the remaining components in the coming days.

a roll of chain fence at the Minnesota State Capitol
A roll of chain link fence sits in front of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul as the barriers around the building are taken down on Tuesday, June 1.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The Capitol was closed in March 2020 as the pandemic forced the Legislature to meet remotely. The fence hastily went up during protests over the death of Floyd on May 26, 2020. It remained up during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and through former Officer Derek Chauvin's conviction for murder in Floyd's death in April. The state spent over $100,000 on the fence.

stay off the fence sign at the Capitol
A sign hanging on fence around the Minnesota State Capitol is removed as the fences come down on Tuesday, June 1.
Evan Frost | MPR News

As the Capitol took steps toward reopening, officials also prepared for a state government shutdown if lawmakers don't complete a $52 billion two-year budget before July 1. Some 38,000 state workers have started getting 30-day layoff notices as required by their contracts and compensation plans.

Gov. Tim Walz told them he hopes the warning is only a formality and that the Legislature reaches a deal in time.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman has said she hopes the Capitol will be open in time for a special session expected on the budget in mid-June.

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