Senators launch space-related bills, highlight value of aerospace to Florida, entice aerospace industry

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., 12 Jan. 2011. The Florida Capitol hosted Space Day this week, marking the first such event since NASA’s space shuttle program came to a close. Space industry leaders and advocates from across Florida discussed the importance of Florida’s aerospace industry, while Florida senators are working both to diminish the economic impacts of the program’s end and to boost opportunities for high-tech jobs in the state.

“The end of the shuttle program was a significant setback for our state,” admits Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island. “Florida has stepped up to the plate and paved the way toward job creation by providing incentives to private aerospace companies, like AAR and Embraer, and provided unprecedented levels of funding. In fact, over the past two years, Florida has provided more than $15 million for financing assistance for new and expanding space businesses, development support and recruiting activities, infrastructure needs, and Space Florida operations.”

Creating a healthy atmosphere for aerospace-related businesses, whether private spaceflight or research-and-development companies, adds to Florida’s current job-creation efforts, recognizes Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

Senate Bill 110 by Senator Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville is currently making its way through the legislative process, says a spokesperson. This bill seeks to update the inventory of existing spaceport territories in the state by designating the property Cecil Field Spaceport in Jacksonville as a “spaceport territory.” It also permits the board of directors of Space Florida to designate real property within the state as a spaceport territory if the property has been licensed by the FAA as a spaceport.

Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Ft. Myers, is the sponsor of a bill aimed at allowing spaceport facilities to more appropriately utilize funding due to the changing needs of Florida’s aerospace industry. Passing the Senate unanimously Tuesday, SB 634 provides the framework for infrastructure funds to be spent on applicable space projects in its master plan.

SB 934, a bill relating to Space Florida by Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Palm Beach, exempts Space Florida from s. 216.181(16)(b), F.S., which limits advance payments received by an agency. This bill would allow Space Florida to receive advanced payments for infrastructure improvements to current infrastructure projects.

Senator Thad Altman, R-Rockledge is the sponsor of SB 1110, which would remove the maximum amount of tax refunds a recipient of either the Qualified Defense Contractor and Spaceflight Business tax refund program or the Qualified Target Industry tax refund program may receive.

“Preserving and boosting our state’s space industry is at the forefront of discussions this year because of the importance the industry has played in Florida’s history and the role it will play in Florida’s future,” Gardiner continues. “I am pleased to see members working to create an environment in which space-related businesses can thrive.”




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