March 9, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
The business climate looks brighter for general aviation in Florida now that the state House and Senate have agreed on an economic-development package with sales-tax exemptions for aircraft repairs and equipment.
House Bill 7087, backed by AOPA and the Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA), makes aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of more than 2,000 pounds eligible for a tax exemption previously available only to airplanes weighing more than 15,000 pounds, and rotary-wing aircraft weighing more than 10,000 pounds maximum certificated takeoff weight.
The House-committee-sponsored bill, passed by the House in February, cleared the Senate March 9. It now moves to Gov. Rick Scott for signing.
Lighter single- and multiengine aircraft make up the majority of the aircraft undergoing maintenance in Florida, giving the bill a far-reaching and beneficial potential economic impact, said Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs.
Kimberling’s on-the-scene advocacy for the bill, in tandem with FATA, and with help from aircraft manufacturer Embraer, provided much of the momentum as the bill moved through the legislative process.
“This bill passage marks a great day for general aviation in Florida,” he said. “I commend the leadership in both the House and Senate for working with us on this important issue.”
He credited Sen. Michael Bennett (R-District 21) for his work championing the legislation in the Senate.
Bennett, in a statement, said he expected the measure to provide new employment opportunities for Florida aviation businesses.
“The passage of this important legislation will now allow Florida's numerous world-class maintenance and repair stations to better compete in attracting and retaining business, thereby protecting and creating countless family-sustaining jobs in this vital industry,” he said.
Kimberling added that AOPA, “along with our friends at FATA, will continue to work with the legislature to protect and grow GA” in Florida.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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