Thursday News Roundup: New Mexico Senate Panel Eyes State Fair Commission Chair

Feb 13, 2014

  NM Senate panel eyes state fair commission chair - The Associated Press

A New Mexico Senate committee is scheduled to decide whether to reappoint the chair of the state fair commission.

Larry Kennedy is expected Thursday to go before the Senate Rules Committee amid questions from Democrats over a much-debated lease that allowed Downs of Albuquerque to build a larger casino.

Critics have questioned whether political contributions influenced the deal.

Kennedy answered questions from Democratic committee members who faulted Kennedy for only holding one commission meeting last year and for what they said was mismanagement.

Committee chair Sen. Linda Lopez also is seeking to have State Fair Manager Dan Mourning appear before the panel to answer questions. Lopez is among five Democrats running for governor against Gov. Susana Martinez this year.

Republicans have called the debate over the lease politically motivated.

House approves tax break for aircraft maintenance The Associated Press

 New Mexico would lift its tax on parts and labor for maintaining aircraft under a proposal that has passed the House.

Republican Rep. James White of Albuquerque said Wednesday that New Mexico needs to remove its gross receipts tax from aviation maintenance, such as replacing tires, to prevent aircraft owners from using repair shops in other states with tax exemptions. No tax is charged in neighboring states such as Colorado, Texas and Arizona.

The bill passed the House on a 52-14 vote and heads to the Senate for consideration.

Opponents objected to creating another tax break for businesses.

The Taxation and Revenue Department estimates the state and local governments would lose about $500,000 in revenue each year if the tax break becomes law.

Albuquerque hosts series on Western 'water crisis' - The Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque is hosting a series of panel discussions on the drought and its effects on limiting water resources.

The five-part series, called "Water Crisis in the West: Thinking Like a Watershed," begins Thursday evening at the KiMo Theater in downtown Albuquerque. A panel discussion will follow once a month through June.

New Mexico has been dealing with severe to extreme drought for a few years. Reservoir levels have yet to recover from reaching record lows, and forecasts indicate more dry weather is on the way.

Thursday's panel will feature historian and author William deBuys; the director of the Center for the American West, Patty Limerick; and author and photographer John Nichols.

Future panel discussions will focus on the perspectives of American Indians and farmers and ranchers.