INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Wednesday
rescinded new Statehouse security rules that put a 3,000-person limit on
the number of people allowed in the building at any one time.
he told state police to return to past practices of allowing all visitors
into the Statehouse after they've cleared security checkpoints. The
Republican governor said state police and the state fire marshal raised
valid public safety concerns about large crowds inside the building, but
he decided it was important to keep as much public access as possible as
the Legislature begins its 2012 session.
comes a point where safety and security seems to be in jeopardy, they have
my authority to do something different," Daniels said.
The new limits
announced last week would have capped the number of Statehouse visitors at
about 1,300 because it took into account 1,700 people who work there or
who have access passes, including about 250 lobbyists.
Marshal James Greeson had defended the capacity limit Tuesday, saying it
was based on how quickly the building could be evacuated. He said his
staff calculated that with the four exits on the main floor of the 1880s
Statehouse, up to 3,200 people could get out within about five minutes.
leaders and Democrats argued they believed the capacity limit was intended
to frustrate people who wanted to visit the Statehouse to protest the
Republican-backed "right-to-work" proposal being considered.
"This was a
unilateral action meant to restrict free speech," Indiana AFL-CIO
spokesman Jeff Harris said. "The people rose up and complained and he
he wasn't involved in prompting consideration of the capacity limit and
other tighter security rules on what visitors could bring into the
error on the side of openness and hope there's not a problem," Daniels
said. "If one develops, then we'll look at that."