Topeka They spend billions of tax dollars and write laws everyone must follow, but senators in refurbished Statehouse offices can't be trusted with a hammer and nail.
Legislative leaders told senators in the Statehouse's east wing not to hang pictures, calendars and other bric-a-brac, at least not until those leaders draft a policy on how to do it properly.
And in the Statehouse, protecting recently plastered and painted walls requires thoroughness. Affected senators received a letter Thursday, asking them to record what they want to hang and each item's size, all on a yellow form.
"Pure bureaucracy," said Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. "I have no intention of filling out the cute little form. By the time they figure out what to do, I can just make a phone call."
The east wing is home to the Senate chamber, and its first two floors now have offices for 28 senators.
Workers redid heating, wiring and lighting as well as painted and stenciled the walls to return them to their look around 1917. All of it was part of an ongoing $162 million Statehouse renovation project to be finished in 2011.
"It's not that anybody's against pictures," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence. "We don't want to get back to a case where we just have nails driven in random locations all over, chipping paint and poking holes that we just spent a lot of time and money to fix."
Some senators took the nail-driving moratorium in stride, saying they understood the need to protect the walls. Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, acknowledged it gave him an excuse to avoid a chore.
"I wish I had that excuse at home," he said.
But O'Connor wanted to hang her calendar, which featured close-up pictures of flowers.
"We're going to lay it on a table?" she said. "It's a beautiful calendar. I paid money for it, and now I can't hang it up."
The picture-hanging ban also applies to leadership offices behind the Senate chamber on the third floor.
"Even I have not driven any nails in my wall," Schmidt said. "You know, you have to lead by example."