A Day At The Roundhouse – Morrie Pongratz

Gang of Four

Los Alamos County officials, from left, Councilor David Izraelevitz, Council Chair Sarah Scott, County Manager Harry Burgess and Coucilor Pet Sheehey visited the Legislature Thursday to support SB-11. Photo by Morrie Pongratz


Thursday,  Jan. 31,  five of us from Los Alamos traveled to Santa Fe to support Senate Bill 11 (SB11), the bill to not allow 501C(3) exemptions from New Mexico Gross Receipts Taxes for National Labs.  I was joined by County Council Chair, Sara Scott, Vice-Chair, Pete Sheehey, former Chair, Councilor David Izraelevitz, and County Manager, Harry Burgess.

SB11 is co-sponsored by Senator Carlos R. Cisneros, Senator Richard C. Martinez, Representative Christine Chandler and Representative Andrea Romero.  Los Alamos County would lose about 40% of it’s General Fund revenue if TRIAD was granted an exemption.

The bill was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee at 1:30PM.  The committee members were tied up in actions on the floor of the Senate until 4PM so we cooled our heels for a while.  This is not unusual. When Committee Chair John Arthur Smith called the hearing to order the first item was SB11. Senator Cisneros and Representative Chandler pointed out that the same bill had passed both houses a year earlier only to be vetoed by the governor.  Only one Senator, Gay Kernan, a Republican representing Chaves, Eddy, and Lea counties, asked a question. She asked about any potential impact upon pit production at LANL. She also expressed hope that the bill supporters would also support similar efforts in her area should the need arise (the DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is located in Eddy County).

Next, Senator Smith asked for audience members in favor of the bill to raise their hands.  We were joined in raising our hands by the county’s lobbyist, Scott Scanland, RCLC Executive Director, Eric Vasquez, and Tony Mortillaro, Executive Director of the North Central Regional Transit District (RTD).  Tony is also a former Los Alamos County Manager. Then Senator Smith asked for a show of hands from anyone opposing the bill. There were none.

Senator Munoz, representing Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties, moved a “Do Pass” recommendation for the bill.  Senator Nancy Rodriguez representing Santa Fe County seconded the motion and it passed unanimously without further discussion.