MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County judge on Thursday ruled the Department of Administration's recent policy on access to the Capitol was impermissibly restrictive and violated first amendment rights.
Beginning last Monday, Capitol Police allowed only people with official business inside, denying or delaying access to thousands, according to witness testimony and statements in court. People who planned to meet with a lawmaker or attend a hearing were admitted sporadically, while others were admitted on a one-to-one ratio.
Judge John Albert ruled the DOA needs to return the Capitol's access procedure to the way it was set up in late January, which allows for people inside the Capitol during regular businesses hours and during hearings.
Albert ruled that no one is allowed inside the Capitol after normal business hours, specifically mentioning a group of protesters that had been sleeping inside the building for several days. He gave the DOA permission to deny access to anyone attempting to enter the building with a sleeping bag or other overnight gear.
The judge gave the DOA until Monday morning at 8 a.m. to get in compliance with his ruling, allowing the Department to maintain a permitting process that gives them the ability to limit the times and places future rallies can be held.
DOA Administrator Mike Huebsch testified Thursday that he has received estimates it will cost $7.5 million to restore the Capitol inside and out after the weeks of protests.
MADISON (WKOW) -- The court hearing over access to the Capitol continues in Dane County court this afternoon.
The state says the damage to the Capitol caused by protesters is estimated at $7.5 million to restore. According to the Department of Administration, the damage estimate breaks down to $500,000 to supervise removal of adhesive posters, $6 million to restore the interior, and $1 million to restore the exterior. The DOA secretary says the high damage estimate is because there are 43 different kinds of marble in the Capitol and the tape could stain the marble.
A Capitol worker inside the governor's office testified at the hearing that the noise is "excruciatingly loud" and doesn't feel safe moving around in the halls unescorted.
UW-Madison Chief of Police says authorities found 41 live long rifle shells around the Capitol last night.