Last week, State Sen. Steve Knight introduced measures that would amend California’s spaceflight informed consent law to include vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and service providers, and also exempt aerospace products used in manufacturing and research and development (R&D) from sales and use taxes.
These measures are in addition to a separate bill that Knight introduced in December that would provide sales and use tax exemptions on equipment and materials used for the renovation, reconstruction and rehabilitation of commercial space launch sites.
California State Sen. Steve Knight has introduced legislation that would extend exemptions of sales and use taxes to includes equipment and materials used in constructing, reconstructing and improving commercial space launch facilities.
Specifically, Senate Bill 19 would include “equipment and materials used to construct, reconstruct, or improve new or existing facilities designed to launch, manufacture, fabricate, assemble, or process equipment that facilitates the renovation, rehabilitation, or reconstruction of commercial space launch sites.”
Knight’s bill would benefit the Mojave Air and Space Port, where Virgin Galactic, Scaled Composites, XCOR Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Stratolaunch, Firestar Technologies, and Interorbital Systems are working on new space systems.
The law already provides “an exemption for the gross receipts from the sale of, and the storage, use, or other consumption of, qualified property for use in space flight.”
California legislators have significantly watered down a proposed law that would have held human spacecraft operators, manufacturers and suppliers not liable for injuries or deaths sustained by passengers if the participant signed an informed consent agreement acknowledging the inherent danger of their flights.
Under amendments to the bill, companies would have “limited civil liability” even if they were not grossly negligent or intentionally caused injuries. Legislators have also removed vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers from coverage under the measure.
Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager Stu Witt is making some progress in his campaign to get Sacramento to provide more support for his facility and the aerospace industry across California.
Witt told the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors on Tuesday that he recently got a call from the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, which will be sending an advance team from the state’s Office of Economic Development for a one-day visit to the desert spaceport. The call came after a letter of support from Larry Adams and Jay Sprague, president and vice president, respectively, of the California City Development Corporation.
Although the Mojave spaceport is thriving as an R&D center, it is doing so in spite of a terrible business climate caused by high taxes and burdensome regulations, Witt believes. The state is under serious threat of losing its innovative aerospace companies to other states that are offering financial incentives and looser regulations. The state earlier lost its aircraft industry in a similar manner.
A limited liability bill protecting spacecraft operators from lawsuits except if they are grossly negligent or intentionally cause injury to spaceflight participants is making its way through the California Legislature. The measure would put the state on an even footing with New Mexico, Virginia and Florida, which have passed similar measures.
The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Steve Knight of California’s 36th district, would
require a space flight entity, as defined, to collect a signed warning statement, as specified, from each participant in space flight activities, as defined. In addition to the disclosures required by federal law, the bill would require the warning statement to, at a minimum, inform the participant that the space flight entity is not liable for bodily injury sustained as a result of the risks associated with space flight activities. The bill would limit the liability of a space flight entity that complies with these provisions, except as provided. The bill would state findings and declarations of the Legislature regarding the nature of the space flight industry.