AOPA continues to work with members of the Texas legislature to advance bills to mark and register meteorological evaluation towers (METs), expand a tax exemption for aircraft maintenance, provide free state airport directories, and continue to provide a sale-for-resale tax exemption for leased aircraft.
With the Texas legislative session in full swing and AOPA monitoring more than 50 bills that could affect general aviation in the state, the focus has been on advancing legislation that can increase safety or save pilots money.
Legislation to mark and register METs, which pose a hazard to low-altitude aviation operations such as agricultural spraying, helicopter flights, and search-and-rescue operations, has passed in both the state Senate and House, and is now awaiting transmission to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office for a final signature.
“We look forward to seeing this law signed for the safety of pilots statewide,” said AOPA Central Southwest Regional Manager Yasmina Platt, who advocates on behalf of AOPA members in Texas. “These towers can go up quickly, without notice, and they are very hard to see. It’s important that we take steps to protect pilots who fly at low altitudes in rural areas.”
A measure to expand an existing sales-and-use tax exemption to include aircraft parts and equipment passed second reading on the House floor on May 7. Currently labor is not taxed in Texas; however, parts are. That puts Texas out of step with the majority of other jurisdictions and drives business to other states where tax exemptions translate to lower maintenance and repair costs for aircraft owners. Platt testified in the support of the bill before the House Ways and Means Committee and will continue to seek backing for the measure as it moves through the legislative process. A companion bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee but no hearing has yet been scheduled.
Another measure that would make the Texas Airport Directory, which is printed by the Texas Department of Transportation every few years, available to the public for free has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee after passing the full House. Currently, the state charges $6 for the directories, but AOPA and others have argued that, as a state resource, it should be made available to the public at no charge in the same way as the Texas Highway Map produced by the department.
House Bill 3287, which would make aircraft leases eligible for a sale-for-resale tax exemption, has passed the House Ways and Means Committee and is waiting to be scheduled on the House floor. A companion bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting referral to a House committee. Both the House and Senate measures also would allow aircraft to be brought into the state for completions without being subject to tax, properly address out-of-state use and related party transactions, and exempt fractional programs from sales-and-use tax.
“The current legislative session has a lot of moving parts with many significant pieces of legislation in play,” said Platt. “But we’re seeing good forward progress on many of the key bills under consideration, and we’ll keep pressing lawmakers to pass legislation that supports and promotes general aviation.”