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Thursday, February 6, 2003

Committee Tables Exemption Question

By Kate Nash
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE The Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee on Wednesday tabled a measure to repeal the gross receipts tax exemption for New Mexico newspapers.
    The committee, on a voice vote, approved the motion by Sen. Don Kidd, R-Carlsbad, to table the bill.
    Only Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, voted against the tabling motion.
    Aragon said he supports repealing the exemption for newspaper and other businesses that get gross receipts tax exemptions.
    "I don't have any exemptions," Aragon said. "I'm a practicing attorney, no exemptions for my typewriter ribbons or disk."
    Sen. Allen Hurt, R-Waterflow, sponsored the bill, SB 100. He said it's unfair and inequitable to allow the newspaper exemption.
    "We have a free press. Not a tax-free press," Hurt said.
    The bill to remove the exemption for newspapers has been put before previous sessions of the Legislature.
    Opponents Wednesday included representatives of several newspapers and the New Mexico Press Association. They said the tax would be difficult to collect and would be passed on to customers.
    "Removing this exemption would essentially be a tax on information and free speech," said Marco Gonzales, a lobbyist for the press association.