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Senate chamber getting an overhaul

First major renovation since chamber opened in late '70s

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – 2016's legislative session is over, and while it's still a long way away, things are expected to look different for 2017.

A different kind of work started in the Senate chambers this week. Lawmakers finished legislative session on March 11. Now, the Senate chamber is getting an overhaul.

"Given the early finish to our legislative session, we wanted to remodel the chamber, upgrade some of the fixtures, the electrical, the AC unit, the carpet and make sure we're up to the current building codes," Senate spokesperson Katie Betta said.

It's the first major renovation since the chamber opened in the late '70s. The nearly $6 million project was actually supposed to happen more than a decade ago.

"Back in 2003 under president Jim King, there was an initial plan to upgrade the chamber at that time, as well as the Senate office building, but ultimately those plans were put on hold," Betta said.

If a special session is needed, lawmakers will take a step back in time and hold meetings in the old Capitol.

"We've made contingencies, I think you wrote about, we'd go to the old Capitol, and I talk to members and they think it would be pretty cool," said Senate President Sen. Andy Gardiner. "It would be great for you guys because you’d get to be with us on the floor."

The money for the revamp has been set aside from past budgets.

There have already been 20 inquiries to purchase desks that were removed from the chamber for historical preservation purposes.