The Latest: Georgia lt. governor defends denying Delta perk - InfoNews

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The Latest: Georgia lt. governor defends denying Delta perk

Senator P. K. Martin, R - Lawrenceville, presents HB 918 which was stripped of a jet-fuel tax break. The Georgia Senate approved a sweeping tax bill Thursday, March 1, 2018, in Atlanta that punishes Delta Air Lines for cutting business ties with the National Rifle Association. The measure passed the GOP-dominated Senate 44-10, with only Democrats opposed. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
March 02, 2018 - 9:20 AM

ATLANTA - The Latest on Georgia lawmakers' decision to punish Delta Air Lines for cutting ties with the National Rifle Association (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

The Georgia Republican who led the charge for pro-gun lawmakers to punish Delta Air Lines says they were defending the values of "ridiculed and belittled" conservatives.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle called Delta a "beloved bedrock" of Georgia's economy in an opinion piece published Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But he said Delta's decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association sent a clear message to conservatives that "we find your views deplorable."

Cagle wrote: "We cannot continue to allow large companies to treat conservatives differently than other customers."

GOP Gov. Nathan Deal has blamed election-year posturing for the Delta controversy. Deal is term-limited and Cagle is a leading Republican candidate to succeed him.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian insisted Friday "we are not taking sides" in the gun debate.

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11:45 a.m.

Georgia's governor has signed into law a sweeping tax bill that Republican lawmakers amended to punish Delta Air Lines for cutting ties with the National Rifle Association.

GOP Gov. Nathan Deal tweeted Friday that he swiftly signed the measure so Georgia taxpayers could benefit as soon as they file 2017 tax returns. He made no mention of the Delta controversy.

Pro-gun Republicans in the state House and Senate voted Thursday to approve the broader tax measure after GOP lawmakers eliminated a proposed tax exemption on jet fuel. The prime beneficiary would have been Atlanta-based Delta, which angered lawmakers with its decision to end fare discounts to NRA members.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other GOP lawmakers vowed to punish Delta by killing the tax break.

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10:15 a.m.

The CEO of Delta Air Lines says "we are not taking sides" in the national debate over guns despite the company's decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association following the school massacre in Florida.

Delta released an internal memo Friday that CEO Ed Bastian sent employees after Georgia lawmakers voted to deny the Atlanta-based airline a tax break as punishment for crossing the NRA.

Bastian says: "Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate."

The move backfired. The Republican-led Georgia legislature moved swiftly to eliminate a proposed tax exemption on jet fuel from a broader tax bill that passed Thursday.

State Sen. Michael Williams, a GOP candidate for governor, told "Fox & Friends" on Friday: "We had to send a message."

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1:25 a.m.

Delta Air Lines has been subjected to swift political retribution in its home state of Georgia for crossing the National Rifle Association.

Republicans in the Georgia legislature voted by wide margins Thursday to kill a jet fuel tax break that would have directly benefited Atlanta-based Delta. It happened five days after the airline said it would end discounted fares to NRA members in the wake of the Feb. 14 school massacre in Florida.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, told reporters he hoped Delta was "better at flying airplanes than making P.R. announcements."

The airline's decision outraged pro-gun lawmakers. GOP Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle vowed to fight back. Republicans made good on that promise with their votes Thursday.

Critics have warned the decision to punish Delta could damage Georgia's business-friendly reputation.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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