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Statehouse Renovations Should Aid Disabled

May 10, 2001

By: Ben Paynter

State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Aiming to make the State Capitol more accessible to the disabled, lawmakers Thursday approved spending $500,000 to draw up floor plans that would increase and reorganize office space.

The provision, part of the budget for capital improvements, funds the development of three proposals as solutions for "decompressing the Capitol."

"Forty percent of the House offices are not accessible," Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said. "This puts half a million dollars into studying proposed solutions."

Graham garnered bicameral support for the allocation, part of former Gov. Roger Wilson's Riverfront proposal. It is expected to provide 36,000 square feet of additional floor space.

Graham said the provision's approval should help capital employees, some of which reside in "the most deplorable work place we put state employees." The issue has remained unresolved since before he took office in 1997.

"We're going to do something next year," Graham said "We're going to pull the trigger. Pick the best one and do something."

Members of the both the House Budget and Senate Appropriations committees will select one of the three proposals next year, Graham said.

Rep. William Linton, R-Wildwood, opposed the measure, saying it was a waste of money to fund more than one proposal.

"The other two are worthless," said Linton, a project engineer. "For half this money, you can do an awful lot."

Approved 92-18, the proposal awaits a decision by the governor.