During Wyoming’s legislative session, the bills, budget and lawmaker battles tend to hog the limelight. But when photographer Mike Vanata recently visited the Capitol, he couldn’t help but notice the behind-the-scenes workers who make the operation run so smoothly.
Beyond the buzz of activity surrounding budget amendments, lobbyist testimony and bill introductions, Vanata said, “you will see that the snow is plowed, the floors pristine and the lights on.”
Vanata turned his lens to these behind-the scenes workers. The resulting portraits, he said, are “a salute to all the people who work at the Capitol, even after the chaos is over.”
Wyoming’s citizen Legislature occupies the historic Capitol building for only a fraction of the year. During that time, session staff consisting of clerks, computer operators, doormen, messengers, secretaries and assistants ensure the orderly flow of legislative proceedings.
The downtown Cheyenne landmark doesn’t empty out completely during the remaining months. The governor and his policy staff continue to work in the building. Meanwhile a year-round staff of lawyers, fiscal analysts, researchers, information officers and others comprises the Legislative Service Office, which serves as the permanent, non-partisan staff for the Legislature.
Other employees maintain the grounds. With the Capitol’s $300 million renovation on display, visitors are coming from all over to see the curving wooden stairway banisters, towering archways, stained glass ceilings and ornately decorated rotunda.