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Politics and Government

Colorado lawmakers consider permanent fence around state Capitol

State officials are now deliberating the message it could send to have a fence around a building often referred to as “the people's house"

The Colorado Capitol is pictured during the first day of ColoradoÕs 73rd legislative session in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The Colorado Legislature is considering allocating about $1 million toward permanent fencing around most of the state Capitol building in downtown Denver in response to vandalism during protests last year, a newspaper reported.

Recent renderings reviewed by The Denver Post showed plans for a six-foot-tall (1.8-meter-tall), wrought-iron black fence that circles the building but does not cut off the steps or doorways.

The funding comes from an $8 million budget allotment for Capitol construction, spending described in public budget documents as security upgrades. Enhancements include bulletproofing windows, new security cameras and fortified doors.

State officials are now deliberating the message it could send to have a fence around a building often referred to as “the people’s house.”

“I don’t believe a fence says exactly what this building represents and stands for,” Democrat Senate President Leroy Garcia said. However, Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg from Sterling said it could be “helpful” to “help slow looters and rioters down from destroying the Capitol.”

No looting was reported at the Capitol during the protests, but state officials said it cost more than $1 million to remove all the spray paint and clean up the grounds.

Similar deliberations over fencing have played out in recent weeks in Washington, D.C., where officials are planning to remove sections of fencing that were put up after the Jan. 6 riots.

The fence around the Colorado Capitol is still subject to additional design review, said Commerce City Democratic Sen. Dominick Moreno, who chairs the legislative budget committee and is the vice chair of the Capitol Building Advisory Committee. He also noted that the building will remain open to the general public.

It is unclear if approved, when the fence would go up.

A bipartisan group of former lawmakers has started a petition to prevent the fencing from being erected. A rally has been planned for March 28 on the Capitol’s west steps in opposition to the proposal.

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