Legislation seeks to boost Florida to launch activities
What if a company could launch a rocket into space from Florida and pay no sales tax on the rocket, its payload, fuel, or even the concrete, steel, and equipment needed to create the ramp. launch?
“It seems that the state legislature is trying to create the most favorable environment possible for the capital associated with the space industry, in order to be competitive with other states,” observed Jared M. Stout, director of congressional policy and regulation in the Washington cabinet of Meeks, Butera and Israel. Stout has also served on the staff of the Florida Legislature and the Florida Congressional Delegation, with ties to the Florida Space Coast.
While tax exemptions on anything that goes into space from Florida may seem like a niche incentive now, with three or four dozen rockets going off each year, the stakes are much higher in the not-so-distant future. . The same is true for the income prospects of any tax exempt. The commercial space industry is emerging and growing so rapidly that hundreds of launches per year are expected before the end of the decade.
There are a lot of companies that are already in space, starting with Boeing, Lockheed Martin Space, EspaceX, United launch alliance, Sierra Nevada, Northrop Grumman, Virgin orbit, Blue Origin and Firefly Aerospace. There are also countless startups and other emerging ones, which are preparing their own launchers, payloads and space companies.
Satellites and astronauts go up. Space tourism started last year. A weightless manufacturing sector is being created, and all kinds of private weightless research are planned shortly. Private companies are developing their own private space stations and NASA is helping to fund them. Private trips to the moon may soon be possible.
“It’s a fascinating time,” said Sirois. “There’s a lot going on and my point is that we’re really in that stage of Wright Brothers spaceflight. So what I want to do is make Florida the leader, a very competitive place for these companies to set up shop. “
He noted that some members of Congress have suggested the federal government might want to tax thefts, and Sirois replied, “I think that’s exactly the wrong message to send to the industry right now.”
Sirois, of Merritt Island, and Wright, of Port Orange, dubbed their bills “Zero G, Zero Fee”. The measures would make launches, launchers and their payloads tax-exempt for the next 20 years, provided they are launched from Florida. The legislation includes a sunset clause so that the legislature can reassess the loss of income and the need for incentives again in 2042.
At the same time, the Rep. René Plasence from Orlando introduced HB 9233, which would provide Florida $ 10 million in credit to build a new multi-user launch pad at Cape Canaveral. Space Florida, the state’s space enterprise development agency, spoke about the need a launch pad that could be leased at launch by companies that don’t have their own launch facilities, like SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and others do.
“We are running out of usable launch pads,” said Plasencia, whose district includes Titusville on the Space Coast. “There are a lot of newly formed rocket companies that launch and manufacture rockets. And we’re in direct competition with other states, other countries, to get these companies to move their facilities to the state of Florida. And one of the things we can do is make sure we have enough launch pads. “
Competition for launches is emerging as quickly as the commercial space industry. California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia are among other states that want big chunks of this business, and some are already operating active launch sites. There are also many overseas launch sites.
Stout said the United States is at the forefront of the world in developing space entrepreneurship. But a lot of it happens outside of Florida.
“The competition for space companies is very fierce,” Stout said. “There are a lot of states interested in bringing space technology to their state. So, if a state wishes to attract space companies over other states, it is obvious that a favorable regulatory and tax environment would certainly be reasons to relocate to Florida.
“From that perspective, it’s really the old adage that capital goes where it’s best treated,” Stout added. “I’m not sure I know of any other states as aggressive as this (the Florida proposal) appears to be.”
Nonetheless, he noted that space companies are also on the lookout for available and well-trained labor.
“The workforce is a huge factor in some of these decisions. I think one of the reasons that so many tech companies are found in California is the workforce available in California, ”Stout said.
But he also noted that the space sector workforce has started to rebuild in recent years after a long and difficult decline following the demise in 2011 of NASA’s space shuttle program.
Sirois said he was not aware of any other state offering or offering tax exemptions.
“We would be the first to offer a ‘Zero G, Zero Fee’ concept, which for me is an exciting statement to make for Florida in terms of the priority we place on this line of business,” said Sirois. “I want to make Florida the place where you can launch, land, refurbish, prepare payloads, and I want to do it in a way where the government is not a hindrance.”
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