June 17, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
Sometimes in politics, the good news is that bad news won’t happen. In Louisiana, antique aircraft collectors and aviation employers dodged legislative bullets that would have raised the costs of aircraft ownership or of doing business.
The good news—that is, the absence of bad news—was confirmed June 6 when the Louisiana Legislature adjourned without taking action on two bills AOPA had geared up to oppose because of their negative impact on the aviation community.
House Bill 714 would have imposed a 4-percent sales tax on antique airplanes and noncommercial aircraft of less than 6,000 pounds maintained by private collectors. Senate Bill 257 would have eliminated an enterprise-zone tax credit of $5,000 for “each new job created” by Louisiana’s aviation and aerospace industry.
The adversity wouldn’t have ended there: Revenue from the sales tax on antique airplanes and light noncommercial aircraft would have flowed out of the aviation sector instead of being reinvested in aviation infrastructure. (In addition to its impact on aviation, the expired bill contained a provision for the taxability of digital goods and services.)
“Sometimes it’s the bills that don’t pass that really determine the success of a state legislative session for general aviation,” said AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling. “Meanwhile, we continue to advocate for proactive, positive tax and other state legislation nationwide.”
A more low key, yet vital facet of the complete AOPA state advocacy program is the continued comprehensive tracking of all state GA bills to make sure nothing troubling slides through, which can amount to hundreds and sometimes thousands in a given year—then deciding when to take action.
“Aside from tax bills, that includes a vigorous effort to support legislation to maintain state and local funding for general aviation airports and infrastructure, and protecting GA from unnecessary state or local regulation,” he said. “Accordingly, AOPA will continue to monitor, track, and take action on all GA legislation—good or bad—in Louisiana and beyond.”
AOPA’s Central Southwest regional manager recently put GA’s utility to the test with a whirlwind trip covering four states, seven airports, and nine meetings.
Wisconsin’s governor has signed a bill adding aviation to an existing recreational-use statute.
Smith Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., has withstood three separate attacks—in the 1970s, 1990s, and 2002—to close it and redevelop the land. Now, it's thriving.
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