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"California lawmakers approve restoring jet-fuel taxes"

Friday, May 6, 2005

Assembly approves restoring jet-fuel taxes
By Nat Friedland
The San Francisco (CA) Examiner 
Following a heated floor debate, a bill to restore to San Francisco and San
Mateo counties $3 million annually in jet fuel taxes incurred by United
Airlines at San Francisco International Airport was approved by the state
Assembly in a 55-13 vote.

Sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo,
AB 451 closes a loophole that had allowed Oakland to siphon sales taxes
incurred by United at every airport in California in exchange for a 65
percent rebate to the airline.

Now, AB 451 must still pass the state Senate and go to Gov. Schwarzenegger's
desk for further approval. A similar bill by Yee last year was approved in
both houses. But Schwarzenegger vetoed it, saying he wanted to see further
study on how an end to the rebate would impact struggling United Airlines.
"The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee has held several detailed
hearings about this bill's financial impact, on both the airline industry
and the communities providing service to airports where jets refuel," Yee
said in a prepared statement. "I believe the governor will now have the all
information he needs in order to sign this."

Four lobbyists for the airline industry called on Assembly members during
the two weeks before the vote, according to Yee.

"I was not sure the bill would pass," said Yee spokesman Adam Keigwin. "But
it turned out that just about all the 13 opponents to AB 451 spoke against
it on the floor and there was no other opposition."
Among those speaking in support of the bill were Assembly men Ira Ruskin,
D-Redwood City, and Gene Mullin, D-San Mateo. Mullin had sponsored an
unsuccessful competing bill that would have given all the jet fuel revenues
from the San Francisco-owned airport to San Mateo, where it is located.

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