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California lawmaker proposes tax breaks for commercial space firms

December 10, 2012 |  9:07 am

With California the focus of a growing private spaceflight industry, state Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) has proposed revising tax laws to make the state more attractive to employers.   

Knight, whose father was a test pilot, has introduced legislation to provide an exemption from  sales and use taxes for equipment or materials used to renovate or reconstruct properties used as space launch sites.

“We need to level the playing field before we irretrievably lose business to our competitors,” Knight said. “Without Senate Bill 19 we risk losing California’s vital aerospace industry to other states and countries that are more business-friendly to this and other industries.”

California’s Mojave Desert is home to several commercial space ventures that hope to offer space flights to paying customers, including  Scaled Composites and XCOR Aerospace Inc.

But Stuart Witt, chief executive of the Mojave Air & Space Port, warned in February that California risks losing aerospace firms to other states  if it doesn't become more business friendly.

In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed another Knight bill that limited the legal liability of commercial space operators for death or injuries resulting from flights, provided that passengers have been informed of the risks and given written consent.


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Photo:  Photographers snap pictures of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo outside the hangar at Mojave Air and Space Port IN 2011. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times