VISITOR'S GUIDE TO
THE ALABAMA LEGISLATURE
What To Expect
If you are planning a trip to visit the Alabama State House, whether to contact your Legislators, observe the Legislature in session, or simply as a part of a tour of the State Capitol Complex, you should consider the following information to ensure your time is well spent.
Alabama State House:
Under Article IV, Section 48, the Legislature is required to meet in the State Capitol building. However, in the 1980's, as part of the complete restoration of the State Capitol, the electorate ratified Amendment 427 to the Constitution, enabling the Legislature to select another place to temporarily meet until such time as renovations to the State Capitol were complete. Final renovations to the State Capitol were completed in December, 1992, though some minor work is still ongoing.
Thus, the Alabama Legislature is temporarily housed in the Alabama State House, originally built as the State Highway Department Building in 1963.
Address & Occupants:
The Alabama State House is located at 11 South Union Street in Montgomery, behind the historic State Capitol.
The State House provides office spaces for the following:
- Alabama State Senate (7th Floor)
- Secretary of the Senate & Senate Staff (7th Floor)
- Senate Gallery (8th Floor)
- Senate Committee Meeting Rooms (6th & 7th Floors)
- Lt. Governor (7th Floor)
- President Pro Tempore of the Senate (7th Floor)
- House of Representatives (5th & 6th Floors)
- Clerk of the House & House Staff (5th Floor)
- House Gallery (6th Floor)
- House Committee Meeting Rooms (6th Floor)
- Speaker of the House (5th Floor)
- Legislative Reference Service (6th Floor)
- Legislative Fiscal Office (6th Floor)
- Legislative Reapportionment Office (8th Floor)
- Joint Briefing Room (8th Floor)
- Governor's Legislative Office (2nd Floor)
- State Budget Office (2nd Floor)
Parking in the Capitol Complex is extremely limited, particularly during Legislative sessions. There is metered parking on most streets in the complex, operated and controlled by the City of Montgomery. Please note that meters have a two-hour maximum and that re-feeding of meters is prohibited by the Montgomery Police Department. The City of Montgomery currently assesses a $4.00 fine for each citation given for vehicles parked at expired meters.
The State of Alabama offers free public parking at Cramton Bowl, three blocks east of the State House at 1022 Madison Avenue.
The State of Alabama offers handicapped parking, in keeping with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), on the Washington Avenue side of the State House.
State House Hours & Access:
Legislative office hours are 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. During Legislative sessions, evening hours are extended if either of the two houses of the Legislature is still in session. Access to the State House is provided during any hour that the Legislature is in session.
Visitors to the State House should enter through the doors on Union Street or Washington Avenue. Disabled access is available through the Washington Avenue entrance. For security reasons, all other entrances are locked, and not accessible to the public.
Please be aware, that during a Legislative Session, all visitors to the State House must pass through metal detectors upon entrance. Security personnel will confiscate, and hold, all firearms, knives and any other weapons, until the visitor exits the building (Joint Rule 19).
Because the State House is a temporary location for the Alabama Legislature, public areas on the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th floors are quite confined, and often crowded on Legislative Days.
The Alabama Legislature meets in annual Regular Sessions, each of which can consist of no more than 30 Legislative (meeting) days, within a 105 Calendar day period. By statute, the dates for convening of annual sessions, for each year of a Quadrennium (4-year period), are as follows (all times, Noon):
- 1st Year: 1st Tuesday in March
- 2nd Year: First Tuesday in February
- 3rd Year: First Tuesday in February
- 4th Year: 2nd Tuesday in January
(For example, the 2011 Regular Session is the first Regular Session in the current quadrennium, elections having been held November, 2010)
Special Sessions may be called at any time, by the Governor, for emergency or extraordinary reasons. Special Sessions can consist of no more than 12 Legislative (meeting) days, within a 30 Calendar day period. In his/her Proclamation, calling the Legislature into such session, the Governor will state the date and time for convening of such session.
Once in session, whether Regular or Special, the Legislature regulates its own schedule of meeting days and times for convening. Normally, the schedule of a Regular Session consists of Legislative (meeting) days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Committee meetings held on Wednesdays. However, please note, that this schedule can change from week to week, and that Committees may meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while their respective body is not in actual session.
Therefore: Before planning a trip to see the Legislature in session, please be sure of its planned meeting days and times of convening. You may do this by calling the Senate, at (334) 242-7800, and the House of Representatives, at (334) 242-7600. After hours, you may call these numbers to receive a recorded message, stating the day and time each body will next meet.
On Legislative (meeting) days, visitors may view the Senate and House of Representatives from their respective Galleries. The Gallery for the Senate is located on the 8th Floor of the State House; that for the House of Representatives is located on the 6th Floor. Visitors to the legislative Galleries are required to be seated, and may not stand for the purposes of viewing the proceedings below.
Please note, that Rules of Decorum prohibit the display of any sign, placard, banner or other visual device in the respective Galleries. In addition, no demonstrations, clapping, cheering, jeering, or other vocal or audible actions are permitted in the Galleries. Visitors also are prohibited from making any motion, designed to attract the attention of any legislator or legislators.
Legislative security personnel are stationed in the Galleries to maintain order.
Because of the ever-increasing number of visitors on Legislative days, it is not uncommon for the Galleries to be filled on certain days. No visitor will be allowed admittance to the Gallery, if all seats are taken. However, legislative security personnel may, from time to time, place a limit on the amount of time a group may spend in the Gallery, in an effort to allow other visitors admittance.
Each Gallery has a special, reserved section to accommodate persons in wheelchairs. Legislative security personnel will escort such persons to this area.
Should a fire or other emergency occur while the Legislature is in session, legislative security personnel will escort Gallery visitors to the appropriate exits. In the event of such occurrence, your cooperation with legislative security will help ensure an orderly evacuation of the building.
The Galleries are open during any hour that either of the two houses of the Alabama Legislature is in session.
All meetings of the House Standing Committees and Senate Standing Committees, held for the consideration of legislation, are open to the public. From time to time, public hearings are held on certain legislation, at which time individual citizens may testify before the committee holding such public hearing, either in support or opposition to the legislation under consideration. Please consult the Joint Rules for specific requirements governing public hearings. The public may witness, but not testify, at committee meetings during which legislation is being considered, but for which no public hearing is being held.
Visitors should note that most committee meeting rooms are very small, and do not accommodate large numbers of persons. The times of Standing Committee Meetings are posted on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors of the State House, in keeping with the Joint Rules of the Alabama Legislature.
All persons who shall be in attendance at the State House for the purposes of urging legislators to support or oppose legislation, are required to be registered as Lobbyists with the Alabama Ethics Commission. Those persons excepted to this Rule are persons who are in attendance for the purpose of urging support or opposition to legislation, but whose activities in this regard do not extend beyond one day. For further information regarding legislative governance of lobbying activities, including penalties for failure to comply, see the Joint Rules.
Meeting With Your Legislator:
If you wish to meet with your Representative or Senator, on a Legislative Day, it is best to call ahead to make an appointment. Please consult your legislators' home pages, listed under House and Senate on this web site. If you are unsure of who your legislators are, you may also use the Zip Code Lookup.
House & Senate Security:
The Chief of Senate Security and the Chief of House Security, at the direction of the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, jointly oversee security personnel at the entrances to the State House on the 2nd (ground) floor. The Secretary and Clerk are in regular consultation with the Legislative Building Authority, regarding security needs.
All visitors must enter the Alabama State House through the main entrance on South Union Street. Visitors must sign in and wear a visitor’s badge while in the State House building. Also, visitors are required to pass through a metal detector and submit any handbags, backpacks, briefcases, etc, for X-Ray examination.
By statute, the Secretary of the Senate has care, custody and control over the 7th and 8th floors of the State House, and the Clerk of the House has care, custody and control over the 5th and 6th floors. As such, these Officers are charged with the responsibility of maintaining order in all lobbies and other public areas of these floors. Security for each body of the Alabama Legislature is provided by security personnel for each, under the supervision of the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House.
Anyone causing a disturbance on the 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th floors of the State House are subject to ejection by legislative security.
The Chiefs of Security for both the Senate and House are each vested, by statute, with powers of arrest, should an individual or individuals commit an act or acts which warrant arrest.
Personnel of Capitol Security are employed and supervised by the State Finance Director, to patrol all areas of the Capitol Complex, and assist House and Senate Security, if necessary. These uniformed officers have full powers of arrest over anyone who may violate the law on state property, or cause a disturbance of such magnitude as to be injurious to others.
State Fire Marshal:
The State Fire Marshal, or his representative, is present at the State House on all Legislative Days. With the increasingly large numbers of persons visiting the State House during legislative sessions, the Fire Marshal's Office is sensitive to the potential problems which can arise due to the congregation of crowds in the narrow, limited space afforded the public in the State House. The State Fire Marshal has full statutory authority to clear crowds from any floor of the State House, as well as bar entrance of further persons, if such congestion is deemed hazardous to the welfare of the public.
Americans With Disabilities Act:
The Alabama Legislature is committed to complying with the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and supports the goal that individuals with disabilities shall not be excluded from participating in, or be denied, the benefits of any program, service or activity offered by the Legislature. Every effort has been made to make all public areas of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th floors of the State House, including lobbies, public meeting rooms, bathrooms and galleries, accessible to all citizens. While the Alabama Building Renovation Finance Authority has responsibility for general access to the State House, the Alabama Legislature has taken steps of its own to implement the provisions of ADA, in so far as the physical constraints of the State House will allow.
In addition to providing space in the Galleries for wheelchair-bound persons, the Alabama Legislature also offers special equipment for the hearing impaired in its Galleries. Persons with such disability should alert House or Senate Security of the need for such equipment.
The Alabama Legislature also offers, on an as-needed basis, the services of sign-language interpreters for those with total hearing impairments. In order to properly serve such guests, we ask that such persons, or their representative, contact House or Senate Security prior to their anticipated visit to view the Legislature in session, so that proper arrangements can be made for the services of such sign-language interpreters.
Anyone having comments, suggestions or complaints regarding general access to the State House should make these known to the State Finance Director at (334) 242-7160.
In order to help us accommodate you, we request that large groups of citizens with disabilities, wishing to visit the State House, contact the Chiefs of Security of each house at the numbers below:
- Senate Chief of Security: (334) 242-7835
- House Chief of Security: (334) 242-7730
While we realize that such prior arrangements are not a legal obligation of any citizen or group of citizens, as a prerequisite to visiting the Legislature during its sessions, your cooperation will help us in providing groups with disabilities with the special attention so deserved.
Groups wishing to make special arrangements to tour the historic Capitol Complex, should contact their Representative or Senator as far in advance of their proposed visit as possible. Your Representative or Senator can assist you in making sure that your visit to the Capitol Complex is properly scheduled. Please note that tour groups, and individual visitors to the Capitol Complex, are most numerous in the Spring months.
While downtown Montgomery offers a variety of dining establishments, there are four (4) state cafeterias within walking distance of the State House:
- Folsom Administrative Building (located adjacent to the State House, on Union Street)
- Gordon Persons Building (located behind the State House, on Ripley Street)
- RSA Plaza (located across Washington Avenue from the State House)
- RSA Commerce Center (located on Washington Avenue, 2 blocks west of the State House)
The Alabama Legislature wishes to extend to you a warm welcome to the State House and will endeavor to do whatever possible to assist you in your visit. Should you have any questions not addressed in the foregoing, please feel free to contact us at:
- Senate: (334) 242-7800
- House: (334) 242-7600