Rep. Tom Dent: Overview of aviation issues in the 2022 legislative session
The 2022 legislative session came to an end on March 10. The Legislature banged the gavel to signify Sine Die a little past 11:30 pm on the whirlwind, short 60-day session. Aviation didn't fare too well this year, as short sessions are difficult to move complicated legislation.
House Bill (HB) 1470, the companion bill to Senate Bill (SB) 5350 by Sen. Jim Honeyford, which expanded the definition of a commercial airplane used in certain tax preference statutes did not move this year. We were not able to overcome the snag we hit last year with the bill. Possibly next year.
SB 5440 sponsored by Sen. Jeff Wilson, concerning tax reform to preserve aerospace and other manufacturing jobs in Washington, and lowering the B&O tax rate to 0%, did not move out of the Business, Financial Services and Trade Committee.
SB 5422 sponsored by Sen. John Braun, concerning excise tax reform to preserve aerospace jobs in the state and lowering the B&O tax rate to 0%, died in the Ways and Means Committee.
I sponsored HB 1712, which would have created an option for sponsors of municipal airports to manage their airports. Many of our small airport's struggle with management issues and this bill would give the airport sponsors an option to manage their airport by commission, if they so choose. Nothing in this bill required an airport to use a commission, it just offered an alternative to management. The bill made it to the House floor calendar and died there.
HB 2086 concerning aviation assurance funding in response to wildland fires was sponsored by Rep. Mary Dye. This bill would have provided support for our small rural fire districts with finances to defray the costs of contracting with local aerial applicators to help on wildfire initial attack. Initial attack is the best way to keep wildfires small and manageable while hopefully preventing state mobilization. The average state mobilization costs are around $750,000. If we can prevent state mobilization it is a win for the state and the taxpayer. The bill failed to advance out of the Rural Development, Ag and Natural Resources Committee.
HB 1290, (Senate companion SB 5329 by Sen. Honeyford) as known as the 1% bill didn't move at all. The conversations around the HST and PPT taxes were not fruitful. The Department of Revenue and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) talks did not come to a resolution, so the bills died in their respective committees. This legislation would not increase taxes. It would divert a portion of the sales tax revenue (1% of the 6.5%) on aviation fuel to the aeronautics account. This money then could have been used to leverage the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) money we are eligible for from the FAA. The revenue generated from the infrastructure projects completed as a result of the AIP funds would have paid back the 1% to the general fund and then some. This program would generate approximately $4.4 million a year to the aeronautics account.
Instead, the transportation chairs of the House and Senate put forth a revenue package with money included for aviation infrastructure.
In the Move Ahead Washington revenue package taxes were increased for aviation fuel from the current 11 cents to 18 cents beginning on July 1, 2022. In the past, the per gallon increases were phased increases of 1 cent over several years. This new package brings the entire increase on board all at once. This is a new tax and will generate approximately $1.6 million a year. I offered an amendment to SB 5974 to remove the new tax on aviation fuel and replace it with the language from HB 1290, the 1% bill. The amendment failed so the fuel tax increase remained in place. The Move Ahead Washington plan is a 16-year package. The money generated in the 16 years for aviation:
- Move Ahead – $ 25.6 million in new tax revenue.
- My amendment – $70.4 million diverting existing tax revenue.
HB 1538 dropped last year to create an Aviation Aerospace Advisory Committee was turned into a budget proviso last year to form the committee temporarily. The bill needs to pass to put the advisory committee into statute. The bill passed out of the House Community and Economic Development Committee. Unfortunately, it was referred to the Appropriations Committee where it died.
The good news is the committee has been formed because of the proviso from last year. The first meeting was held on March 15. The committee membership is incredible with members from all segments of the aviation and aerospace industries. The best way I can describe the members is a brain trust never seen before in the industry. I truly have high hopes for the work this committee will be able to accomplish! Next year we will work on moving the bill again to make this a permanent committee.
If you have comments or ideas for aviation-related legislation, or if you would like me to come to a chapter meeting, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me through my Olympia office at 360-786-7932, or my district office at 509-941-2346. You may sign up for my email updates by visiting my website at representativetomdent.com
Stay safe my friends and until next time, BlueSky's and Tailwinds!!
Tom Dent is a lifelong resident of Washington and has been a professional pilot since 1976 accumulating more than 20,000-logged hours. He currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate multi-engine land with commercial privileges single engine land. Tom is also a Certificated Flight Instructor for both single and multi-engine airplane and instrument airplane and a certificated ground instructor. He lives on his ranch with his family, the Flying T, seven miles northeast of Moses Lake. Tom represents the 13th District and is currently serving his fourth term in the state House of Representatives.