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Public access to state capitol questioned during legislative session

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  • Staff Report 

The accessibility of New York’s state Capitol to the public during legislative sessions is under scrutiny, as advocates and lobbyists recently found themselves locked out while lawmakers were inside debating consequential bills.


Access to the Capitol has been significantly curtailed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting the public’s ability to watch proceedings and interact with lawmakers on policy matters.

While the state Constitution mandates open legislative sessions, entrances on State Street and Washington Avenue, which usually remain open, were locked.

The state Office of General Services, which oversees the Capitol’s operations, confirmed a change in the usual practice, promising to work with the State Police to inform the public about how to access the Capitol when some entrances are locked “out of necessity.”

Critics argue this lockdown runs counter to Governor Kathy Hochul’s transparency claims.