LANL Coalition Engages in Regional Education Investments, Jobs Available at LANL, & Preserving Labs GRT for State

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LANL Coalition Engages in Regional Education Investments, Jobs Available at LANL, and Preserving Labs GRT for State

May 18, 2017; Santa Fe, New Mexico: The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) hosted its regular Board Meeting last Friday, May 12, 2017 in the Town of Taos Council Chambers. The meeting focused its discussion on the educational investments and work of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation, and received an in-depth look at hiring and other investments managed by the LANL Community Partnerships Office. The RCLC also heard updates on the state legislative effort in preserving National Laboratory Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) in state and local communities, and was briefed on a nuclear waste storage increase at LANL’s Technical Area 55 (TA-55).

The LANL Foundation Executive Director, Jenny Parks, provided valuable insight into the extensive educational support and early childhood services offered to Northern New Mexico communities within the seven counties surrounding LANL. They have already begun to increase their outreach and efficacy through developing strategies in parental home visits, especially in the Eight Northern Pueblos. Their early childhood services have expanded, as well as K-12 programming, particularly in the STEM areas to boost opportunity within New Mexico workforce and training.

The Coalition also gained a deeper look into LANL’s approximate 1,000 new hires in the last year, with the anticipation that hiring will continue at a similar rate over the next 4 years. Kathy Keith, Director of the LANL Community Partnership Office, discussed work to initiate a joint planning process with LANL and regional college and university leaders to identify workforce opportunities. This summer, 1,500 high school and college students will be joining as interns and short-term workers at LANL. Keith commented, “…due to so many LANL employees close to retirement, our challenge as a Lab and as region is to provide training and support for New Mexicans of all education levels to fill these jobs as they become available”.

Since November 2016, the Regional Coalition has supported legislation to preserve the current NM gross receipts tax paid by the National Laboratories of New Mexico. Eric Martinez of Rio Arriba County offered background on possible tax reform legislation in the upcoming Legislative Special Session on May 24, which contains the Coalition’s effort to preserve GRT paid by LANL and Sandia Labs. Martinez and the Coalition Board of Directors discussed the potential implications of this bill for the Coalition’s respective communities, considering each may be affected differently due to varying tax structures and pyramiding.

Following a briefing from LANL’s Environmental Compliance Group member Tammy Diaz on a TA-55 permit modification to allow for additional NNSA-generated nuclear waste storage, the Coalition expressed interest in understanding the difference between ‘NewGen’ waste (NNSA-generated ‘new waste’) and ‘Legacy waste’ (waste generated from the Manhattan Project era through 1999). A presentation and discussion will be held at the next Regional Coalition Board meeting to continue the conversation regarding NewGen and Legacy distinctions, jurisdictions of waste, and how its storage and mobility affects surrounding communities.

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities’ next Board meeting, open to the public, will occur on Friday, June 9th from 9:00-11:00am at Española City Council Chambers.