SANTA FE – State legislators have advanced a bill that would further prohibit threatening public officials or directly interfering with their work.
The proposal comes in the wake of partisan violence in the U.S. and public anger over public health measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Across the country, dozens of public health officials have resigned.
In New Mexico, a man was sentenced to jail time for threats to the governor in August on Facebook, under federal interstate transmission of threatening communication charges.
In a hearing Wednesday, bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes underscored the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. He also mentioned the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
It is unclear if the proposed law would fill a gap in state criminal laws, as most threatening behavior is already illegal.
Extortion, which can include using the threat of violence to compel someone to commit any act, is already a third-degree felony in New Mexico. Violent threats, as well as obstructing public officials, such as by blocking them from entering a building, is already a petty misdemeanor.
Cervantes did not respond to requests for comment.