Capitol fencing will stay for now
Security protocols could remain for rest of legislative session
SANTA FE — The fences around the state Capitol are staying up — probably for the rest of the session.
Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislative Council Service, said he consulted with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders in both chambers and with State Police late Tuesday.
“State Police agreed with my recommendation that security protocols remain in place,” Burciaga said Wednesday. “Therefore the security fences will stay up until we feel comfortable that the building is safe and secure.”
Burciaga said his office is weighing other options to keep the occupants of the building safe, taking into account fire code requirements and other factors. But the fences will stay up in the meantime.
The 60-day session ends at noon March 20.
Republican lawmakers this week called for removal of the fences, contending they give the impression the Legislature isn’t welcoming public voices this session.
The chain-link fence went up around the Capitol in January shortly before the session started, after an FBI memo that warned about the possibility of armed protests throughout the country.
The fence allows State Police to establish one pedestrian checkpoint to control access to the building.
Only legislators, staff and some media members are allowed in the building as part of an effort to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Lawmakers are doing much of their work online, accepting public comment through Zoom video conferences, phone or email.
Republican leaders, in turn, say no violent threats materialized and that it’s time to at least take the fences down.
“Let’s take down the damn fence and let people in here,” Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, said Wednesday.