Hidalgo County aquaculture project gets stalled

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
17 March 2007, at 12:00am

SANTA FE - Questions about a proposed aquaculture economic development project for Hidalgo County stalled the House for much of Friday afternoon, as lawmakers entered the final 24-hour stretch before the session's end.

The project was one of 69 that would be eligible for loan money from a state financing agency to pay for business start-up costs under Senate Bill 221, put forth by Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces.

The bill passed almost unanimously, but several House Republicans said they were concerned that the proposed aquaculture project for Hidalgo County was related to a tilapia fish operation that raised concerns in the Senate on Thursday. Some bill skeptics also said they didn't have enough information about any of the projects to ensure taxpayers' money would be protected.

Bill supporters said they couldn't guarantee the Hidalgo project wasn't related to the aquaculture proposal that proved contentious in the Senate, but said they doubted it was. They contended the overall bill should be approved because it would spur economic development in low-income regions.

Thursday, the Senate turned down a measure that would have provided $6 million in financing for Tilapia Corp. to expand on an aquaculture operation in Hidalgo County.

Friday, several lawmakers asked Rep. Daniel Silva, D-Albuquerque, who carried the bill in the House, if knew whether the provision in Senate Bill 221 was related to Tilapia Corp.

Silva said the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, the state entity that would handle financing for the projects, couldn't reveal much about the business projects because it was private information.

Source: Current