The Senate passed its bill and sent it to the House in January; the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee has not yet voted on the measure. AOPA proposed language that was included in the bill for the sales tax exemption on parts to apply to aircraft less than 12,500 pounds maximum gross takeoff weight, and to heavier aircraft used predominately in interstate and foreign commerce. Maryland and Delaware are alone in the eastern region in not providing some level of tax exemption for aircraft parts and components—and Delaware’s sales tax is less than 1 percent.
“This creates a significant disadvantage for Maryland airports and locally based maintenance facilities, making it difficult for them to keep business from going to repair facilities in neighboring states—namely Pennsylvania and Virginia—that can offer a relative discount to customers,” said AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins.
Creating a level playing field for aircraft repair shops in Maryland would provide job opportunities for students studying in career and technical education programs such as those using AOPA’s High School Aviation STEM Curriculum and to collegiate programs across the state.
Absent local job growth, those students likely would be forced to seek employment out of state, where demand for maintenance services keeps its competitive edge.
Two Hawaii legislative committees have rejected a bill strongly opposed by AOPA that would have prohibited tour aircraft operations from conducting commercial flights on Sundays.
The votes by the Senate Transportation Committee and the Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism Committee make it doubtful that the bill, which purported to address an “overtourism” problem in Hawaii, would advance in this legislative session, said AOPA Western Pacific Regional Manager Melissa McCaffrey.
“AOPA’s efforts, along with the testimony of several other parties who opposed the bill, were successful in putting a stop to this proposal and the extreme penalties it suggested for violations,” she said.
McCaffrey submitted testimony urging that the bill be defeated on numerous grounds including the illegality of a state “attempting to enact laws that circumvent the FAA’s authority,” as well as the adverse economic impact its sanctions would have on tourism and the $742 million annual economic output of Hawaii’s aviation industry—which provides 4,100 jobs to residents.
“Aerial tours alone contribute as much as $150 million a year to the state’s economy,” she said.
AOPA is working with national and state-level aviation advocates to head off repeal of an aircraft sales tax exemption that since 2015 has provided financial stimulus to the state of New York and made it a more competitive place to base aircraft. “This tax exemption has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private investment that would not have otherwise occurred, nor would the related boom in jobs,” said AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins.
Repealing the exemption could add up to 9 percent to an aircraft’s purchase price, given a 4-percent state sales tax and additional local taxes, he said.
AOPA is working with the National Business Aviation Association and the New York Aviation Management Association to raise awareness of the adverse effects of the proposed repeal and mobilize their members to defeat it.
New investment in New Jersey’s airport system and an official nod to floatplane access could flow from the work of a task force established to produce a directory of the state’s public-use airports and make recommendations for industry growth.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill mandating a study of the 42-airport system and producing a comprehensive directory to be published in print and electronic formats, including a mobile edition. The law assigns the state’s Bureau of Aeronautics the job of setting up the task force to carry out a variety of projects.
The renewed focus on the state’s airport system comes as good news for aviation in a state that has lost roughly half its airports since the 1950s. An additional airport, Trinca Airport, a grass strip in Green Township, is expected to close later this year on the expiration of grant obligations, following a vote by the municipality.
What’s AOPA advocating for aviation in your state?