The 2016 legislative session starts in January, two months earlier than the usual start of the legislative March madness. The reason for starting earlier was simple: legislators remembered in 2012, during the once-every-ten-year redistricting session, how nice it was to be done with Session the first days of March. It also means taking Spring Break with their children and the ability to have two extra months to fundraise during an election year.
An earlier Regular Session is the reason that legislative committees have already started meeting. However, remember that this year legislators will have been in Tallahassee every month of the year except for July . . . meaning that they never really left. And did I mention that the House and Senate are not getting along with each other? That the House left Session early in violation of the State Constitution? Or that the perception is the Governor vetoed nearly every local appropriations project of any senator who supported Medicaid expansion (most every senator). Or how about that Senate and House could not agree on congressional redistricting during a two-week special session in August and therefore the courts must draw the districts? None of this bodes well for the next special session in late October on Senate redistricting or for the 2016 Regular Session. More than one long-time Tallahassee insider has commented this is most dysfunctional legislature they’ve ever seen in the last 20 years.
So it is in this political arena that FABA has decided to once again seek a tax exemption for aircraft sales? Absolutely. FABA has championed every legislative tax change that has passed in the last five years, regardless of the political environment. Even if the current political atmosphere is not as favorable as it could be, it doesn’t mean that there is any less value pursuing a statutory change that will help maintain Florida’s status as a favorable state for general aviation. As one of FABA’s Board members mentioned recently, “this is exactly the type of issue that everyone can agree upon if they are serious about economic growth.” Removing the sales tax makes Florida more competitive with other states that are trying to taking aircraft sales away from Florida. Florida led the charge a few years ago removing the sales tax on aircraft maintenance and repair, and now we see other states passing the same legislation to compete with Florida repair facilities.
To bolster our argument to make the change, FABA has partnered with NBAA, AOPA, and others to commission an economic study to help make our case with the Legislature. Showing House and Senate members that repealing the sales tax on aircraft will create jobs and grow the economy is a powerful message to send. And, with AOPA and NBAA’s help we will encourage the Legislature to form a General Aviation Legislative Caucus that can push general aviation issues through the process to the Governor’s desk. We look forward to reporting the progress of the bill to you soon.