Law enforcement officers and the National Guard form a security perimeter around the fenced-in New Mexico Capitol last month. Republican legislators say a security threat has not materialized and want the fence removed.

In politics, good fences make unhappy neighbors.

Republicans in the Legislature, contending “the threat has not materialized” against the Roundhouse in the seven weeks since protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol, asked the Legislative Council on Tuesday to remove the layers of protective barriers around the facility.

The council, an interim committee made up of legislators from both parties in the House of Representatives and Senate, voted early this year to direct the Legislative Council Service to pursue safety precautions before the session began. Chain-link fencing as well as some concrete barriers were installed to deter potential threats.

Republican lawmakers have argued such precautions are unnecessary and deter public participation and peaceful protests.

In a letter addressed Tuesday to Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque and president pro tem of the Senate, and House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, six Republican leaders in the House and Senate wrote the fencing “creates the perception that our government leaders are afraid of the state’s citizens and there is a division between those who govern and the general public.”

Egolf and Stewart are members of the Legislative Council.

The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Greg Baca of Belen, Mark Moores of Albuquerque and Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho and Reps. Jim Townsend of Artesia, Rod Montoya of Farmington and Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences.

Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislative Council Service, said Tuesday afternoon he was reviewing the letter and planned to meet with Democratic leaders to talk about security and discuss the issue. A spokesman for House Democrats declined to comment.

The council usually does not meet during legislative sessions, which could slow efforts to get its support for the proposal.

Since the session began Jan. 19, state police officers and members of the New Mexico National Guard have been patrolling the Capitol and checking the identification of those entering the building, which is closed to the general public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans who signed the letter said they are agreeable to maintaining that security presence but said it is “imperative” the fence come down immediately.

They said the security initiatives are costing up to $33,000 per day.

At the outset of the session, Burciaga told members of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee the estimated cost of Capitol security personnel would be about $2 million — somewhere between $33,000 and $34,000 per day.

In an email, Nora Meyers Sackett, spokeswoman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, wrote the security measures for the building are a matter for the Legislature, though she noted those decisions “would certainly be subject to whatever threat analysis and intelligence law enforcement partners have conducted.”

In the weeks between the presidential election and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, supporters of then-President Donald Trump held several mostly peaceful demonstrations outside the Roundhouse on the weekends, though some protesters were armed and there were occasional fights near the building.

The session ends March 20.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(38) comments

Russell Scanlon

Wow—I guess he COULD shoot someone on 5th Ave. and his supporters would still find a way to blame it on Democrats.

Tom Hyland

Here's maybe the only way life will return to normal. Let's hope this experiment works.

Karry Howard

Our Lady the Governor was caught swiping funds designated for children to supply her personal whiskey cabinet and a plethora of yummy tidbits for her privileged belly. She must believe putting herself in a cage will prevent her from going to another type of cage.

Tom Hyland

House Bill 139 was created in order to reign in the emergency powers the governor has been wielding since almost a year ago. This petition is gathering many signatures from folks who want to see the three departments of government in New Mexico returned to an equal and equitable system. Add your signature.

Stefanie Beninato

That is not true--Governor taking funds for children. That was from her discretionary budget. Your hatred for her is obvious but get the facts straight. And what does that have to do with fencing?

Tom Hyland

Michelle ordered the fencing. This is VERY expensive virtue-signaling. Nobody believes there's an insurrection brewing in Santa Fe. Nobody.... but maybe you.

Khal Spencer

There was never the kind of incident here that there was on 6 January. This continued treatment of the Roundhouse as a war zone is not only expensive, but more importantly, gives the appearance that we are in an impending civil war and only serves to provide a visible propaganda piece. Tear it down unless we have current, vetted, credible intelligence that a threat is at hand.

Its time to heal.

Tom Hyland

These are valuable observations, Khal. But they will probably be deleted by the censors.

Stefanie Beninato

I too would like the fencing down and the state helicopter from flying over So Capitol for hours. I too don't like the war zone look or the state police just sitting around without purpose. I too acknowledge it was a response to insurrectionists that the GOP encouraged and have yet failed to disown their irrational conspiracy theories re stolen elections.

Khal Spencer

We have always had conspiracy theorists. That is no excuse to keep this police state presence up at the people's house when there is not a credible threat. If there is a credible threat, the DPS should say so. All the government is doing is fomenting continued paranoia.

John Martinez

Beleive it or not OUR tax paying money pays for this building and everything that happens inside this building. We have a right to be present and witness to everything that transpires on our behalf. I am not political but if this was a Republican majority House and Senate, there would be a huge call for an investigation and uprising.

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Stefanie Beninato

WOW Your alternative facts are scary and I am sure the five people who lost their lives and the hundreds who were injured would agree with you it was a "false flag event" but not as you see it. It was an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transition of power instigated by Individual No 1 and people like Roger Stone, Rudy Guiliani and their ilk. I doubt any supporters of BLM broke into that bldg and threatened the lives of the VP and the Speaker of the House. Where do you get your news?

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Al Chavez

So wrong headed.

Al Chavez

To our Republican friends: You need to credibly disown your support for Trump and Trumpism before you go demanding that the fences your fanaticism caused to be erected can be removed.

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Cleve Spence

Everyone that watch 6-Jan knows that this was a planned insurrection! trump's GOP still spinning the message of fear, hate, lies and conspiracy theories!

Chris Mechels

Why would anyone with to attack our Round House. To improve our government, which works against the interests of New Mexicans, esp with the Trifecta in power?

We need to fence out the Legislature, until they take an enforceable OATH to our laws and Constitution, which they violate constantly. But, who's to enforce our laws? Certainly NOT the Attorney General, the Auditor, or the Governor; all busily breaking our laws.

The criminals are running the place, and the citizens are fenced out. So New Mexican!! The Governor and her Cabinet violate the NM Rules Act constantly, shutting out the citizens from their right to participate in Rule Making, and nobody cares.

Al Chavez

You have it exactly backwards. Wake up before you and your insurrectionist cohorts tear down the country.

Russell Scanlon

In all seriousness: As a recent arrival to the SF area, I have really enjoyed walking through the area around the statehouse. The sculptures are beautiful, the landscaping, the building itself. It is such a surprisingly peaceful place and quite different from any other state capitol I’ve ever seen. The barricades are a constant reminder of how far we have fallen after 4 years of Donald Trump.

Khal Spencer

Seems the country is falling victim to the Stockholm Syndrome of sorts. We've developed a psychological bond to crisis and extremism.

Madame Governor, tear down this wall!

Russell Scanlon

The crisis will end when the GOP renounces extremism.

John Wilson

Reading the headline, I thought that a miracle had happened, a sort of 'Saul on the Road to Damascus' thing had happened to the GOP and they had come out against the border wall. Hilarious!

Russell Scanlon

I’m sure the Republicans don’t like seeing the fence every day as it a reminder that THEY are the political party that is solely responsible for it being there. Now if we could just get them to wear masks.

Al Chavez

Amen to that. My first thought exactly. And it causes me to think the fence should be left up both because the fever infecting Republicans is still here and as a reminder of what they are capable of. These benighted folks are dangerous.

Kirk Allison

You know what’s dangerous, Mr. Chavez? Locking the People, both sides, by the way, out of their own government. I guess that’s okay for sheeple folks like you.

This was not “caused” by Republicans, it was put in place by Democrats who know they have a lot to hide, and will use any Trumped up excuse as cover.

To refuse to remove the fence until Trump supporters and Republicans acquiesce, is essentially extortion with We The People as leveraged pawns. And it speaks loudly about you and your ilk.

Mark Stahl

I get a kick out people that blindly swallow the rants and lies of a game show host and failed businessman calling others sheep. Have another glass of kool aid.

Kirk Allison

Excellent retort, Mr. Stahl. You certainly addressed all the issues with that one.

It always amuses me how the left worships Hollywood celebrities as political soothsayers, yet slams President Trump as having been a (very successful) TV celebrity. Please go take another toke and it’ll all feel better.

Craig O'Hare

Since the security fencing was directly in response to the Jan. 6 violent assault on our nation's Capitol by Trump-supporting Republicans, a precondition for removing the fencing should be: 1) Republican State Senators and Representatives publicly acknowledge that the Presidential election was fair and legitimate and was not "stolen." and 2) make carrying weapons,concealed or open, against the law on State Capitol grounds.

Russell Scanlon


Stefanie Beninato


Joe Preston

Great idea. Also hold Steve Pearce publicly accountable for his irrational and unsupported comments.

Kirk Holmes

So, let’s see now ........... a fence built along the southern border is an abhorrent abuse of power and loathed by a certain group, while a “fence” set up surrounding the state’s capitol is loved by ....... that same certain group?

Richard Reinders

Don't forget the Nations Capital.[thumbup]

Logan Chrysler

I'd have to agree, I watched the incident online, all of this wouldn't have happened if "He who I will not name" lied about "stealing the election". And like sheep, his followers went right over the cliff. This hurts the very tenet that the US was founded on, let alone the standing you guys had till 2016! I feel that NOT ONE but every part of the Bill of Rights were trampled not only for those four past years, but was nearly dealt an almost killing blow on 6 January. For that alone, the GOP will have to eat crow for this, and I hope right to '22. As for the fence, for a Canadian like me who lived through the FLQ Crisis and had to drive past military checkpoints just to get into Quebec, I'd have to say there's got to be some sort of compromise, let alone not cause a situation that pulls people apart. I'm moving to New Mexico because of the VERY SAME climate that has caused me to leave Washington state. I really don't want New Mexico go down that path. Quit your bitchin' and come to a compromise. I feel that the spirit of Marsha P. Johnson is looking down on Santa Fe, an she ain't liking what's going on, so get over it, look at yourselves in the mirror GOP, and see what you like down there. You may think different after.

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