New Indoor Display Rules Set for Capitol Campus

October 31, 2009

Author: Brad Shannon

Source: The Olympian

New permanent rules formally signed Friday at the Capitol will bar religious displays and nongovernment displays inside Capitol Campus buildings.

The rules take effect Dec. 1 and are aimed at preventing a repeat of last year’s riot of displays inside the Legislative Building. However, the rules do allow a state-sponsored holiday tree inside the Capitol Rotunda.

They also allow religious displays outside the Capitol Campus buildings, which means the battle between pro- and anti-religion factions might simply move outdoors, according to a leader from a Wisconsin group that works to maintain the separation of church and state.

Linda Villegas Bremer, director of the Department of General Administration, signed off on the rules. They incorporate a dozen changes prompted by testimony at hearings in September, GA spokesman Steve Valandra said. The agency took other comments by mail.

Thurston County realty agent Ron Wesselius’ Nativity display at the Capitol stirred controversy last year after the Wisconsin-based atheist group put up a placard nearby that mocked religion. A number of other displays followed, and GA eventually declared a moratorium that froze several pending permit requests.