The Florida Senate has 40 members. The even numbered districts sit on one side of the Chamber floor and the odd number districts sit on the other. The viewing galleries of Senate are open areas. Visitors must pass through metal detectors and a guard station to enter the galleries. The galleries operate on first come; first serve basis, though occasionally a Senator may reserve a section. In addition, the ceiling is designed quite differently. This ceiling is designed to reflect sound to the center of the Chamber. This enables Senators to be heard throughout the Chamber in a normal tone of voice. However, the Senators still use their microphones so that people out in the hallways can hear them and recording purposes. Instead of having a pile of bills on their desk each morning, each Senator brings a laptop that they plug directly into the desk. Now whenever a bill comes up for discussion, a copy that bill is sent to each Senator's desk ensuring that they are looking at the same version of that bill. There are four buttons on each desk. The red and green buttons are used for voting. Under each viewing gallery is a voting board. Whenever a vote is held, each Senator's vote is registered and tallied on those boards. The yellow button is used to call a Senate page or messenger to perform an errand for that Senator. The white button is used to tell the Senator that there is a phone call from their office. Each desk comes with a telephone that is direct line to that Senator's office. The paintings that surround the Senate Chamber are portraits of former presidents of the Senate and it goes back for about a hundred years. The glassed in area above the Senate entrance is for the press. The areas in the balconies with the black metal posts are where the television cameras go. The Florida Channel films the Senate whenever they are in chambers. The screen above the Senate seal can be used for video presentations, displaying the text of a bill, or as a welcome screen. The areas on each side of the screen are for support personnel.
Outside of the Senate viewing gallery is the Five Flags Mural. The name of the mural refers to the five flags that have flown over Florida. The mural depicts people who have had an impact on the history of Florida. Across the bottom of the mural are scenes of Florida's native flora and fauna. Renee Faure painted the mural. Starting from the left, the figure in the cameo is Rene de Laudonniere. He built Fort Caroline near Jacksonville. The Spanish gentleman is Pedro Menedes de Avilles. He founded St. Augustine. The British soldier represents the 20-year period of British rule (1763-1783). The Seminole warrior represents the Seminole Wars of the 1350's. At the top of the mural are Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel. Andrew Jackson accepted Florida from Spain on behalf of the United States. The lady in white is Princess Catherine Murat, great grandniece of George Washington and young wife of Prince Achille Murat nephew of Napoleon Bonapart. Her plantation home is on display at the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science. The man in the Confederate Army uniform is General Joseph Finnegan. He was the commander of the Confederate forces at the Battle of Olustee. The man on the horse represents the Roughriders. Tampa was a major staging area for the Spanish-American War. The man in the cameo portrait is James Weldon Johnson. He served as the first secretary of the NAACP and wrote the anthem "Lift Up Every Voice and Sing". The man in the brown suit is Henry Flagler, builder of Florida's east coast railway. The woman in green is Harriett Beecher Stowe. She is the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin". She had a home in Florida. She is attributed with ushering in tourism in Florida. The woman is blue is Zora Neale Hurston. She was a very popular Florida artist. A festival in her name is held in Eatonville every year.
Five Flags Mural