Virginia Space Policy and Budget Advances

Over the past decade, the Virginia General Assembly has been forging an advancing commercial space policy. Space advocates are working for enhancement of the FAA-licensed commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va. Commercial space advocates seek to provision the facility to launch civil and commercial cargo and commercial crews to orbit. Four new space measures are moving closer to law in the New Dominion.

1] Senate Bill 1447 – Senator William Wampler, Jr. – Passed Senate 40-0; Passed House Finance Subcommittee #1 1o-to-1 –Most likely On Full Committee Docket for 2-14-2011 Corporate tax revenues generated by commercial spaceflight; Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. Credits to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority the portion of corporate income tax collected from corporations attributable to the sale of commercial human spaceflights and spaceflight training. The credit to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority begins on July 1, 2011, and lasts through fiscal year 2015. The measure is backed by Vienna, Va-based Space Adventures and the McDonnell Gubernatorial Administration.

2] Senate Bill 1337 – Senator Herring – Passed Senate 40-0 – Now in House General Laws Sub #2 -Freedom of Information Act; Commercial Space Flight Authority. Creates an exemption from the mandatory disclosure requirements of FOIA for (i) records relating to rate structures or charges for using the facilities of the Commercial Space Flight Authority and (ii) records provided by a private entity to the Commercial Space Flight Authority, to the extent that such records contain (a) trade secrets of the private entity as defined in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (§ 59.1-336 et seq.); (b) financial records of the private entity, including balance sheets and financial statements, that are not generally available to the public through regulatory disclosure or otherwise; or (c) other information submitted by the private entity, where, if the records were made public, the financial interest or bargaining position of the Authority or private entity would be adversely affected. The bill also contains a meeting exemption for the discussion of the above records. The bill contains a technical amendment.

3] Senate Bill 965 Senator Ralph Northam – Passed Senate 39-0 Now in House Finance Sub #2 will be heard in Subcommittee on Wed. Feb. 16th. — Retail sales and use tax exemption for spaceport activities. Eliminates the sunset date of the sales and use tax exemption for personal property involved in spaceport activities. The sales and use tax exemption is set to expire on July 1, 2011.

4] House Budget $1,379,095 vs. Senate Budget, $2 million – Budget Conferees in negotiations to be complete by February 22nd. Budget conference report available 12 noon on Feb. 24th. Final budget vote, Feb. 26th, Adjourn Sine Die Sat., Feb 26th, 2011.

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