Bills introduced during these sessions could significantly influence the vertical aviation industry.

US state legislators nationwide ­gathered in January to kick off their legislative sessions, engaging in discussions and decisions that will shape state policies on critical issues ranging from taxation to transportation to government spending. The output of these sessions includes resolutions, amendments, and bills that hold the potential to become meaningful laws.

In 2024, all but four state legislatures are set to hold regular sessions, with Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas convening only in odd-numbered years. With legislative activities already underway in nearly all 50 states, bills introduced during these sessions could significantly influence the vertical flight industry—both positively and negatively.

Visit HAI's legislative Action CenterVAI (formerly HAI) takes a proactive approach to monitoring state legislation and engaging with legislators to safeguard the interests of the association’s members. By closely tracking these legislative activities, VAI can address proposed laws that may harm the vertical aviation industry, contributing to well-informed policies and fostering a favorable regulatory environment for growth.

Simultaneously, VAI leverages its monitoring efforts to support measures and initiatives beneficial to its members and the industry at large.

VAI’s expanding footprint brings forth new opportunities and partnerships, including increased government access and collaboration with industry leaders. The organization encourages states to enact legislation aligning with federal preemption that focuses on infrastructure enhancement, zoning, workforce development, advanced air mobility (AAM) planning, tax incentives, and appropriations for aeronautics departments.

Our legislative monitoring and advocacy efforts in all 50 states has uncovered noteworthy developments, some recent examples of which are highlighted below.

Florida

Policymakers in Florida have introduced legislation setting a maximum allowable tax for aircraft sales or use while also expanding tax exemptions for such transactions. This move provides predictability and cost savings for stakeholders, including rotorcraft operators, contributing to the state’s economic growth. These exemptions act as significant financial incentives for operators and manufacturers, positioning Florida as an appealing destination for business operations.

Massachusetts

As VAI expands its presence in the Northeast United States, our commitment to enhancing collaboration with key stakeholders remains a top priority. Actively engaging with members and contributors in the region, such as Boston MedFlight and MassMutual, is integral to our mission. VAI’s outreach extends to entities including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and nonprofit organization MassAutonomy, ensuring that our interests are not only acknowledged but also accorded due significance.

Our ongoing and constructive discussions in Massachusetts encompass a range of topics, including green infrastructure initiatives such as electric aircraft charging hubs and airport electrification. We’re also addressing hangar availability at Hanscom Field (KBED), delving into AAM, and exploring avenues for integrating sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) into the commonwealth. Such dialogue exemplifies our dedication to fostering meaningful partnerships and advancing the interests of our members and the vertical aviation industry as a whole.

New York

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) recently voiced his endorsement for vertical flight, unveiling plans to transform the Downtown Manhattan Heliport (KJRB) into the world’s first facility tailored for electric flight infrastructure. VAI President and CEO James Viola and members of VAI’s Government Affairs team were present alongside representatives of VAI members Joby Aviation, Beta Technologies, and Volocopter during a visit to the heliport on Nov. 13, 2023. Flight demonstrations were conducted from the facility, providing a tangible demonstration of the current state of future aviation.

Simultaneously, VAI’s ongoing discussions regarding the Gateway Program aim to sustain existing vertical transportation operations while exploring avenues for long-term success in the broader New York–New Jersey metropolitan area. The Gateway Program, a multibillion-dollar initiative, is set to construct two vital tunnels beneath the Hudson River, addressing persistent issues of traffic congestion for both vehicles and railways in the Northeast Corridor. While VAI acknowledges the project’s significance and necessity, we believe it poses a potential threat to operations at the West 30th Street Heliport (KJRA) location and, consequently, the entire New York City heliport network.

VAI supports the Gateway Program in principle but is engaged in ongoing dialogues with all stakeholders involved, emphasizing the preservation of existing vertical transportation operations in the vicinity. These discussions extend beyond mere preservation efforts to exploring opportunities for sustained access and success for our industry in the greater New York–New Jersey metropolitan area in the future.

As the New York State Legislature and the New York City Council commence their work this year, we remain vigilant concerning proposals that may impose limitations on vertical aviation operations in and around New York City. A crucial aspect of this endeavor involves maintaining open communication with elected officials and others to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s needs and contributions.

North Carolina

As in Florida, policymakers in North Carolina are proposing legislation to expand aviation sales-tax exemptions, which would benefit the vertical flight industry by removing sales and use taxes on rotorcraft parts and accessories. Such exemptions could result in significant cost savings for companies in the rotorcraft industry, making repairs and maintenance more affordable.

Washington State

Noteworthy developments in the Evergreen State include proactive legislation aimed at boosting the AAM industry. The state is allocating significant funds for sustainable-aviation grants, focusing on technology that promotes sustainability. A proposal to allocate money from aeronautics funding aims to create a comprehensive statewide AAM aircraft plan. The plan is designed to integrate AAM into existing modal transportation systems, including recommendations for land-use planning and infrastructure needs for vertiports. Additionally, proposed governance structures, regulatory mechanisms, and policies ensure FAA oversight, fostering equitable vertiport development and integration into statewide transportation plans.

As the new legislative year begins, we advise our members to stay informed through VAI’s Legislative Action Center, which provides updates on legislative developments across the states as well as the federal government. The association will share introduced bills and seek feedback to ascertain their potential impact on member businesses and operations.

Whatever your home state, don’t forget to look for opportunities to invite your local elected officials to your headquarters. Educate them about your business and show them all that you do for the community. Need help in connecting with your elected representatives? Reach out to us at [email protected]. As the state sessions move forward, stay tuned for updates to help you navigate the legislative landscape effectively.

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Cade Clark

Cade Clark

VAI’s chief government affairs officer, Cade Clark has directed association advocacy programs for over 20 years. Growing up, he worked at an FBO where Cade learned to fly, washed planes, got in the mechanics’ way, idolized the old-timers and their stories, and deepened his love for all things general aviation.