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Wisconsin State Capitol Assembly Chamber

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*  Assembly Chamber
This is the Assembly Chambers. It is located on the second floor of the west wing in the State Capitol.

Like the United States Congress, Wisconsin's Legislature has two houses - the Assembly and the Senate. There are ninety-nine representatives of the Assembly who are elected to two-year terms. The entire membership of the Assembly is up for election every two years. Traditionally, Republican members sit on the side of the room by the windows and the Democrats sit on the side by the doors. The leader of the Assembly (Speaker of the Assembly) presides over Assembly sessions at the large desk in the front of the Chambers.

The Assembly meets in this room to debate and vote on bills. In order for a bill to become a law in Wisconsin, it must be passed by both the Assembly and the Senate 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 go to the other house for consideration. Any changes to 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.

Because the Assembly is so large, an electronic voting board is used to vote on bills. In fact, Wisconsin had the first electric voting machine in the world installed in the Assembly Chambers in 1917. The original system was replaced in 1939 by two voting boards in the front of the Chambers and in 1975, a computerized voting system was installed. An upgrade occurred in 1988 with the installation of a new totally computerized voting machine. Currently, a new system was installed in 1999, and it provides the citizens of Wisconsin with real time access to votes via the Legislature's web site. In addition, visitors to the Capitol can sit and watch their legislators at work via a third floor gallery in both the Assembly and Senate Chambers.

The Assembly Chamber is approximately seventy-three feet by sixty-eight feet by forty-one feet high. The white marble walls are Dover marble from New York and the columns are made of Italian marble. A 36' circular ceiling skylight of low toned leaded glass lights it from above. This is the largest of the four skylights in the Capitol. Original Wisconsin oak furnishings in this room include the Representatives' desks, the Speaker's desk, and the Clerk's podium.

The mural in the front of the Assembly Chamber is called "Wisconsin" which shows the past, present and future of our state. Edwin Blashfield of New York painted the mural at a cost of $15,000. The size of the mural is sixteen feet six inches by thirty-seven feet eight inches. The eagle on the ledge in front of the mural was donated to the State and is a replica of the original "Old Abe". During the Civil War, Abe was a mascot to the 8th Infantry Regiment from Eau Claire. Abe survived the war and was given to the Governor in the second Madison Capitol. He died in 1881 of smoke inhalation from a small fire. His body was mounted and displayed in the Civil War Museum but was destroyed in the 1904 fire.