January - March 2017 Government Liaison Report
At the end of the 89th Minnesota Legislative session the Ominbus Tax bill and the Capital Investment Bill (bonding) were vetoed. Both bills contained aviation legislation or airport projects, thus Gordon Hoff, MBAA Executive Director, has again been busy at the 90th Minnesota legislature.
In January, Gordon started again to reintroduce legislation to ensure the auto gas delivered to, stored on and distributed form an airport was deposited in the State Airport Fund. This legislation also fixed the jet fuel tax for aerial applicators at 5 cents per gallon, regardless of whether they operated from a private airstrip or a public airport. Gordon met with Representative Davids, Chair, House Tax Committee, who gave his approval for Gordon to work with Revisor of Statutes staff.
After the “Autogas used to Fuel Aircraft” proposal was drafted, Gordon met with the members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees to secure Chief Authors and other members to sign onto the bills. The bills, HF1352 and SF1280 have both had hearings. HF1352 passed out of the Transportation Committee and was referred to the House Tax Committee. SF1280 started in the Tax Committee, passed and was referred to the Senate Tax Committee. Gordon testified at both hearings. There will continue to be House and Senate Committee Hearing later in March.
Nancy Grazzini Olson, and Gordon met, in January, to discuss legislation that would provide loan forgiveness for students at Minnesota colleges and universities that graduate with a professional pilot degree, as well as for students who complete an Airframe and Powerplant program and pass the FAA A&P certification exam. Before going to the Revisor staff Gordon met with Paul Cummings, Manager for Tax Policy, Minnesota Department of Revenue and several members of his staff. Nekey Oliver, Legislative Liaison, Minnesota Office of Higher Education also participated in the meeting.
After this meeting, it was determined it would better to draft a proposal to provide a loan forgiveness rather than a tax credit. To that end, the proposal will provide up to $5,000 for up to 5 years for professional pilot students who graduate from a Minnesota program and stay in Minnesota while pursuing an Air Transport Pilot certificate. If they do not reside in Minnesota they are not eligible for the program. A&P students have the same qualification guidelines and would receive up to $3,000 for 5 years.
This legislation, HF2069/SF1935, has passed the House Higher Education Committee and was referred to be considered for inclusion in the House Higher Education Ominbus bill. The Senate Higher Education Committee has not yet scheduled hearing on SF1935.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s legislative initiative contains language to increase the State Airport Appropriation by $6 million for FY18 and beyond. It also includes language that if Aeronautics collects revenue exceeding its appropriation, it will be able to request permission from the legislature to spend it during the current fiscal year.