Who's Who Under the Gold Dome?

Name tags, badges and ID

Now that I have been roaming the halls of the state capitol for ten weeks I am beginning to know my way around (like where the single or double elevators are and the women’s restrooms ) and see familiar faces! It took a while to distinguish who does what around the marble halls. Once you become familiar with the “tagging” etiquette of the Capitol, you feel much more confident about whom to approach for what (and who to avoid).

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The Senators wear navy blue badges and The Representatives wear red badges (as seen above). I think they are well used to this custom and don’t have an issue with the color choice, but I have to admit that in my early days I thought the red and blue might distinguish party lines. There are also gray badges which indicate Key House Personnel. These are folks like the Page Coordinators or those who tend the chamber doors, for example. The pages even get their own special “tag” on days they have the illustrious page role. It is a round button with a number so that you can remember which number page took your message onto the floor. 

Other color tags include Legislative Counsel/Fiscal office or Information Technology employees of the State, which are brown tags (I don’t see these all that often) and black tags for the Senate Interns. White badges with blue writing indicate Senate Staff and white badges that are smaller and have black writing are “Senator’s Spouse” badges. I have met several wives because of these badges and lines at the ladies restroom!

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If you are starting to be confused, feel free to study this “guide” of Senate and House Badges that is handily located in the doorway of the Senate chamber, lest you find yourself getting confused. This is one place where it is okay to look someone in the eye and then glance at their name badge.  Right off the bat you can tell their level of stature here… then if you have the right glasses on or happen to have stellar vision you can grasp for a name in case you  are not sure who you are speaking to.

Permission granted

That's my lobbyist badge on the left and my state badge on the right...

That's my lobbyist badge on the left and my state badge on the right...

All of the tags listed above, except the page button, will get you through security without having to go through the metal detector…likely because they have all submitted to a background check at some point. I am fortunate enough to have two “official” badges. I have a State Employee badge that allows me access to the State Capitol buildings without having to submit to a security screening and I have a lobbyist badge. The lobbyist badge is the one you will see the most under the gold dome. I suspect they outnumber all the others. The badge is gray with a photo of the badge holder and the firm or organization they lobby on behalf of. Much to the chagrin of the lobbyists, this year they now require the lobbyists to pass through security like “normal visitors” to the capitol. Lucky for me I have that handy state badge to flash upon entry. And honestly I felt a little strange donning my “lobbyist” badge in the early weeks since I really did not know how to lobby just yet! Guess I did not want to be called an impostor.

However, each day that has passed during this session I have gained more knowledge and more confidence. We are gliding into the last week- the 39th and 40th day of the session. When it started it seemed like it would be so long, but like so many other things in life, it has flown by. I will soon be experiencing and blogging about my first Sine Die (the last day of the session). I hope you will join me for my parting comments to the General Assembly next week!