This year’s 60-day legislative session will be unlike any other New Mexicans have experienced.
Case in point: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham may not deliver a State of the State address on opening day Tuesday.
The long-running tradition, which is full of pomp and circumstance, customarily marks the start of a session.
But this year is no ordinary year as lawmakers continue to plan for a session amid a pandemic and, now, the threat of “armed protests” at all 50 of the country’s state capitols ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
“It’s likely the governor will issue a remote [State of the State] address, possibly recorded, and it may not be until the session has already begun,” Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the Democratic governor, said in an email Thursday.
But Sackett said plans for the State of the State address — a speech in which a governor usually touts their accomplishments, announces new initiatives and outlines their vision for the year — are still fluid.
The speech is usually followed by a response from a member or members of the opposite party.
“For weeks we’ve been expecting that the governor will not be issuing an in-person address on the first day of the session as is customary, not only for the virus concerns but also because we expect the first day of the session to be dominated (more than usual) by the Legislature finalizing their rules for remote participation and committee assignment business,” Sackett wrote.
Matthew Garcia-Sierra, a spokesman for House Republicans, said he hadn’t heard anything about a possible delay in the governor’s speech.
“It would be a strange move for the executive to not give a State of the State address, given that she seems set up to do weekly virtual zoom press conferences and House Democrats have made a huge effort to move the session to the Zoom platform,” Garcia-Sierra wrote in an email.
Joaquin Romero, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, said GOP senators will respond to the governor’s State of the State address “after the speech is publicly released.”
New Mexico’s legislative session, which starts at noon Tuesday, will be largely virtual, though business will be conducted at the Roundhouse occasionally.
The state Capitol, which now is encircled by chain-link fencing in preparation for possible violent protests, is and will remain closed to the public.