New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday suggested that the state may push to adopt stricter safety protocols for productions filming in New Mexico.
The governor’s comments come days after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot by a prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust” outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Safety protocols standard in the industry, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed on the set, several crew members told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. The New Mexico film industry, which has been on the rise since the early 2000s, has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to a generous film incentive program helmed by the state.
“My full expectation is that the film and television industry will, at the conclusion of the investigation into this tragic incident and once all the facts are in hand, bring forward comprehensive new safety protocols to ensure this kind of incident never, ever happens again,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement shared with the Times. “If that sort of comprehensive new approach does not materialize, the state of New Mexico will take immediate action, throughout whatever means are available to us, to ensure the safety of all personnel on all film and television sets here in our state.”
Lujan Grisham first publicly addressed the issue during an economic development news conference Tuesday, as reported by the Albuquerque Journal. The Journal also reports that State Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes has been talking to industry officials about possible changes to film-set safety protocols.
In an interview with the Times on Tuesday, New Mexico Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said he hoped to see the film industry and the New Mexico film union come up with a plan to address safety issues but would also be open to legislative options.
“There’s a whole bunch of unanswered questions about what exactly happened there,” Wirth said. “So we need answers to those questions. We need to see what the industry is going to do in response. And then determine if it makes sense to do anything from the legislative perspective.”
Wirth characterized film and television production as “a critical industry” to New Mexico’s economy, which has historically been heavily reliant on oil and gas.
“It’s just imperative from my perspective that workers participating in movies here in New Mexico are doing so in a safe environment,” he said.
New Mexico’s all-volunteer state Legislature convenes for one session a year. The 30-day 2022 session will begin in January, according to the governor’s office.