Capitol building struggling with overcapacity

Posted at: 02/06/2013 6:14 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A lot of New Mexicans are pretty fed up and frustrated with the nuts and bolts of how democracy works at our State capitol these days.

It comes down to either too many people, or not enough room at the Capitol, and since Americans treasure participation in the process, the blame has got to come down on the building itself.

It's just not big enough for the job.

It's never been more obvious than it is already in this sixty-day session. A red hot issue like gun control or same-sex marriage will draw hundreds of New Mexicans, from even the farthest-flung corners of the state, all the way to the Capitol in Santa Fe. But the hearings are held mostly in itty-bitty committee rooms, some of them limited to 35 or 40 people. Everybody else lines up in the hall outside, waiting for somebody inside to vacate their seat. They're unable to speak their piece or hear what's going on.

The Capitol was built back in 1966, when the Beatles were still together and Elvis wasn't even fat yet and the state's population was way less than half of the two million we have now. That leads to the frustrating situation today.

"We came from Alamogordo and so that's a pretty significant drive for us," said Mary Louise Kuti-Schubert. " We were in a small meeting room for House Bill 3 and the longer we were in that meeting, the more time we spent there, the more people were coming in and there was no place to sit or stand."

"I think it's a disservice to the people that came all the way this way," said Jerome Romero, who drove up from Albuquerque. "Nowadays, with all the political stuff that's been happening, people are more aware of politics and now they know their voices need to be heard to make changes."

Unfortunately, this situation doesn't look like it will be changing anytime soon. That's because there isn't any money lying around to expand the Capitol or build a new one. And consider this: as crowded as the building is during legislative sessions, it's mostly empty the other 10 or 11 months of the year.