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Washington Aircraft Owners, Associations Unite for Tax Fight

February 18, 2010Washington state aircraft owners and several aviation organizations were well-represented at a public hearing on the proposed House Bill 3176 held last Saturday, February 13, by the House Finance Committee in Olympia. The bill includes a section that levies a half-percent excise tax on aircraft owned by state residents and is part of the legislature’s efforts to close s $2.8 billion budget deficit.

Prior to hearing comments on HB 3176, the committee heard comments on separate legislation that would eliminate the current two-thirds majority votes needed for the House and Senate to approve tax increases, thus making the tax increase measure passable by a simple majority.

HB 3176 has 14 sections, and Section 10 is the one with the aircraft excise tax. Time constraints allowed only eight people to speak out against the section. After the committee went into executive session, about 50 pilots and aviation association representatives convened in a nearby room for further discussion. Organizations represented included AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association); EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association); NBAA (National Business Aviation Association); PNBAA (Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association); WAA (Washington Aviation Association); WAMA (Washington Airport Management Association); WASAR (Washington Search and Rescue); WPA (Washington Pilots Association); and WSPA (Washington Sea Plane Association).

Marjy Leggett, Tri-Cities WPA Chapter president, wrote in her February president’s message, “When the state makes decisions that affect the future of aviation business and our ability to fly, it affects us all. Unless we form a coalition of all of the aviation groups, we have but a small voice.”

Ryan Zulauf, president of the Washington Airport Management Association and Manager of Renton Field, volunteered to head up a small board and begin the task of establishing a unified association of aviation groups.

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