Republican lawmakers in Georgia delivered on a threat to punish Delta Air Lines for cutting ties with the National Rifle Association on Thursday, March 1, by removing a lucrative tax break for the airline.
Delta announced earlier this week that it is ending discounts for NRA members in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting that killed 17 people.
The airline, which employs 33,000 in Georgia, was set to receive a sales tax exemption on the purchase of jet fuel. After Delta’s NRA announcement, Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said that he would “kill” the airline’s tax cut. The measure is worth at least $38 million to Delta and other airlines.
Georgia’s Republican-controlled House, which had earlier approved the tax breaks, voted 135-24 to pass a new tax bill on Thursday that excluded Delta’s exemption.
“I hope they are better at flying airplanes than timing PR announcements,” House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, told NPR, referring to Delta’s NRA announcement.
The Senate passed the new tax bill 44-10.
The measure is awaiting the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal, who said he would sign the bill, despite describing the Delta feud an “unbecoming squabble.”
“Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but the Republican majority in our state legislature also has every right to govern guided by our principles,” Cagle told NPR.
Several states, including New York, Connecticut, Alabama, and Ohio, are already lobbying Delta to move its headquarters.
“Hey [Delta] —Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs. You’re welcome here any time,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
The NRA is America’s primary defender of Second Amendment rights. The organization has 5 million active members and is considered the premier firearms education organization in the world, according to its website.