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Wisconsin State Capitol Senate Chamber

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 Senate Chamber
This is the Senate Chambers. It is located on the second floor of the south wing of the State Capitol.

Like the United States Congress, Wisconsin's Legislature has two houses - the Senate and the Assembly. There are thirty-three members of the Senate, who are elected to a four-year term. Sixteen members are elected in the presidential election year while the other seventeen are elected during the gubernatorial election year. The leader of the Senate is called the President and he presides over Senate sessions at the large desk in the front of the Chambers. Fellow senators elect the Senate President. The majority party sits in the outer circle of desks while the minority party sits in the inner circle. The Chief Clerk sits in the front of the room with the Senate President.

The Senate meets in this room to discuss and vote on bills that may be passed into laws. In order for a bill to become a law in Wisconsin, it must be passed by both the Senate and the Assembly and then signed by the Governor. The bill can be introduced in either house, and then it is referred to a legislative committee for study. The committee may hold public hearings on the bill. After detailed investigation, the committee recommends passage or rejection of the bill. Most bills that do not pass die in committee. Bills that make it out of the legislative committee are then scheduled for floor debate, and if passed it goes to the other house for consideration. Any changes in a bill or "amendments" must be approved by both houses. When both houses have passed the same version of a bill, it goes to the Governor for signature. Approximately 2,000 bills are introduced during the two-year session of the Legislature, however only about 500 are passed into law.

The Senate uses a roll-call voting system to vote on bills. The Chief Clerk calls on each Senator and they respond with either a "aye" or "nay" and the Chief Clerk records their vote. Legislative sessions are open to the public. There is a gallery in both the Senate and Assembly, accessible from the third floor, where visitors can sit and watch their legislators at work.

The Senate Chamber is a very attractive circular room, thirty-one feet in diameter and thirty-one feet six inches high. Above, there is a 28' circular ceiling skylight of low toned leaded glass. The marble walls in the Chamber are Italian Tavernelle, and the columns and pilasters are Escalette marble from France. Original, hand-carved walnut furnishings in this room include the Senate President's desk, the Clerk's desk, the round table and the Senators' desks.

In the front of the room, Kenyon Cox's mural, "The Marriage of the Atlantic and the Pacific" commemorates the opening of the Panama Canal. The artist chose this subject because this Capitol wing opened in 1913---just a year before the canal did. The cost of this mural was $12,000.