Can you feel it? Things are changing. As much as I love fall – my favorite season – I am not talking about the shift to the first crisp Florida morning that will hint to the eventual change from summer heat to those cooler temperatures and pumpkin spice lattes. I’m talking about the political season of change that we are all experiencing. Don’t worry, I promise I will not debate the very heated general election in the pages of this magazine. However, the looming elections on November 8, 2016, will have a far reaching impact on you, me, and our industry. The elections will affect each of us not only on the national stage, but also on state and local levels. Are you ready for the changes? I’m pretty sure your answer is a resounding “NO!” But, you can rest assured that FABA and the other industry associations are ready to face the changes, no matter what they bring.
On the state level, we are looking at a dramatic shift in the landscape of the Florida House and Senate. Due to redistricting, every seat in the Florida Senate is up for re-election this November and there are many new faces anticipated to be seen on the job in 2017. Not only has the senate map been re-drawn, but 18 incumbent senators are not running. The changes in the Florida Senate are potentially so big that the balance of power could easily shift from being Republican led to a Democratic majority. The Florida House is also in for a vast change with all 120 seats up for grabs and many familiar faces battling it out in tight races.
Why should you care about the Florida election? If you are a member or follower of FABA and our legislative efforts for general aviation in Florida, the changes resulting from the upcoming election could be the difference between our proposed aircraft sales tax exemption passing or not. In the 2016 Florida Regular Legislative Session, our bill made it farther than ever before. We even had the opportunity to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Finance and Tax. Our 2016 bill co-sponsors, Senator Thad Altman and Representative Charles Van Zant, were excellent champions for our efforts. Fast forward to 2017 and, due in part to the changes mentioned above, Sen. Altman is now running for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives and Rep. Van Zant is termed out. This means that FABA and our lobbyist, Eric Prutsman, will continue our sales tax exemption efforts next year, but, with the potential for at least one, if not two, new bill sponsors.
Rest assured that FABA’s legislative initiatives remain at the forefront of the association’s mission. We will act quickly to secure new co-sponsors for our bill once the elections pass and it is clear who the players will be in the 2017 session. There are also plans for an early 2017 meeting of the Florida General Aviation Caucus, which will provide us with an opportunity to educate legislators, new and old, about issues impacting GA in Florida. Our distinct hope is that the changing season in Tallahassee politics will only increase our chances for success!