| SACRAMENTO, Calif.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Jan 29 For-profit space
explorers who make California their headquarters would not have
to pay property taxes on their rockets and space stations under
a bill that advanced in the state legislature on Wednesday.
The move is aimed at stopping an effort by Los Angeles
County to collect levies on equipment owned by the privately
held SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. It is part of a broader
effort by lawmakers to revitalize California's flagging
aerospace sector, once among the nation's largest and key to the
"This bill will create thousands of new, high-paying jobs
right here in California," said state Democratic Assemblyman Al
Muratsuchi, the bill's author. His measure passed the Assembly
64-5, and will now go to the state Senate.
Muratsuchi said he submitted his measure after Los Angeles
County presented Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX,
with a property tax bill on rockets and other equipment.
The company, which did not immediately respond to a request
for comment from Reuters, is in the midst of appealing the tax
demand, a Muratsuchi aide said.
SpaceX, founded by PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk, has
already won tax credits at the local level, resulting in a
commitment to stay in Hawthorne, a Los Angeles suburb.
The company, along with Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp
, have NASA contracts worth a combined $3.5 billion for a
total of 20 cargo flights to the International Space Station, a
$100 billion research complex owned by the United States,
Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.
SpaceX is preparing for its third cargo run to the space
station on Feb. 22. Other private space exploration companies
have also set up shop in California, including Virgin Galactic.
Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, a Republican whose district north
of Los Angeles is near the Virgin Galactic headquarters, said
lawmakers were working hard to restore California's glory as a
hub for aerospace.
"The golden days of aerospace were in California," Gorell
said. "It's not that case anymore. We have to really focus and
fight to keep those jobs here in California."
The state's huge population growth after World War Two was
due in part to plentiful jobs at such aerospace giants as
Douglas Aircraft, Hughes Aircraft and Lockheed Corp. But
the industry shrank dramatically in the early 1990s,
contributing to a crash in the state's economy from which some
areas have never recovered.
The tax exemption bill was opposed by the California State
Association of Counties, whose 58 members collect property
taxes, which are then used to help fund local governments and
The state will lose about $1 million annually in tax
revenues if the bill is passed, the state's analysis of the bill