SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed the first bill of the 2021 legislative session, which funds legislative operations in the state capitol, including an unprecedented amount of security spending in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C.
House Bill 1 provides around $32 million in funding for legislative staff, as well as meals and travel stipends for unsalaried legislators. That is a small fraction of the $7 billion general funds the legislature will be allocated during this year’s 60-day session.
It included $2.1 million in additional security funding, including $675,000 for overseeing the National Guard as part of an unprecedented lockdown of the capitol complex.
Throughout 2020, the capitol served as a stage for peaceful protests, some against police violence following the death of George Floyd, others in opposition of the pandemic lockdowns of businesses, and the closure of state buildings to the public.
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But the Jan. 6 violence in D.C. and additional threats to statehouses identified by the FBI changed the tone this year.
During the opening day of the session on Tuesday, officers, soldiers, and sheriff’s deputies guarded entrances along a one-block corridor on street surrounding the capitol grounds.
Two layers of fencing ringed most of the area, and police deployed video surveillance towers. Legislators vacated the building Wednesday in part to avoid occupying the building during the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
The bill also provides $200,000 to pay for the governor’s legal team as it faces ongoing lawsuits related to pandemic-related public health orders.
Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.