LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — A New Mexico coalition is pushing to prevent tax-exempt operators from taking over the Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories and depriving the state of the labs’ hefty tax contributions.

The Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities has asked the State Legislative Finance Committee to consider eliminating the exemption status for any potential future nonprofit contractors at the laboratories, The Los Alamos Monitor reported (http://bit.ly/2dh1Auv).

The coalition wants the state to continue to receive the roughly $200 million in annual gross receipts tax, even if nonprofit management takes over. Los Alamos County receives about $30-$40 million of the $200 million.

“Because the function of the laboratory never changes, the tax status shouldn’t change as well,” RCLC Director Andrea Romero said. “We’re just trying to keep the status quo with the gross receipts tax we currently receive from both Sandia and LANL.”

Romero said keeping the tax-exempt status would benefit both the laboratories and the surrounding communities by keeping services and infrastructure support flowing without interruption.

“This is something we need to maintain, obviously for consistency and for continuation in infrastructure and other services that supports the laboratory as well,” Romero said.

Both the Los Alamos and Sandia labs are in the process of finding new contractors. They are currently run by for-profit entities: Sandia Corporation and Los Alamos National Security, LLC.

State Legislative Finance Committee members said they will consider the proposal. State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard is sponsoring a bill to support the coalition’s ideas.

“The finance committee has this on their radar. They’ve been thinking about the possibility of legislation to keep that from happening,” Garcia Richard said. “The committee is looking for more expert testimony to see what the impacts would be.”

Information from: Los Alamos Monitor, http://www.lamonitor.com