Senate makeover: $6 million facelift
Since 1978, the circular arena on the fourth floor of the state Capitol has been the setting of countless battles over taxes, education, immigration, race and abortion — the right to live and Terri Schiavo's right to die.
Now the Senate chamber is being upgraded at a cost of $6 million, but it took a while for it to happen.
Back in 2003, former Senate President Jim King of Jacksonville approved plans for a new chamber, but it was put on hold in favor of better technology and bigger committee rooms.
King died in 2009 and the project languished until this year when Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, dusted off the plans and approved the project.
"We are guests in this building," Gardiner told senators in a memo, "and we have an important responsibility to adequately preserve and maintain areas of the Capitol complex."
Work crews arrived the morning after the 2016 session ended in March, ripping out wiring and carpet, wheeling away the boxy dark brown desks.
"It looked faintly how you would have imagined the East German Parliament to look," said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.