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Georgia legislators punish Delta after the airline cuts ties with the NRA

“I hope they are better at flying planes than timing PR announcements."

Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta, Georgia. CREDIT: Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta, Georgia. CREDIT: Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) vowed to kill tax legislation benefiting Delta after the airline cut ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) last week. On Thursday, with the help of the Georgia state legislature, Cagle made good on that promise.

Both the Georgia House and Senate overwhelmingly backed a bill that would cut state income taxes, but only after stripping a provision within that bill that would have benefitted Delta. The provision would have eliminated sales taxes on jet fuel, worth more than $40 million to Delta alone.

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“What is important is not that [tax break] anymore but that Georgians are going to get their tax relief, and we couldn’t let that fall victim to everything that was going on with Delta,” Republican House Speaker David Ralston reportedly said after the House passed the measure.

Ralston also derided Delta’s timing, saying that their decision to cut ties with the NRA when the jet fuel tax break was just one vote away from approval was poor, according to Politically Georgia.

“I hope they are better at flying planes than timing PR announcements,” Ralston said.

Ralston admitted that Georgia wasn’t completely PR-savvy itself, saying, “It was not one of our better days as a state… I think there are better ways of expressing policy differences than we chose.”

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) agreed: according to the Associated Press, Deal previously called the back and forth “‘unbecoming squabble’ fueled by election-year posturing.”

Deal has said he intends to sign the bill into law quickly, likely early next week.

The uproar in Georgia comes after ThinkProgress reported on a number of companies who had business ties with the NRA. On Saturday, Delta announced that it would stop providing NRA members with discounted fares and said it had requested the NRA remove its information from the gun lobbying group’s website.

Twelve hours prior to that announcement, Delta had defended its relationship with the gun lobby as routine.

“The travel information listed on the event website denotes participation in a routine, publicly available pricing program available on delta.com for group travel,” Delta said in a statement to ThinkProgress. “Any group with more than ten people traveling from more than two departure cities, within a defined period, can qualify​ for a group discount (excluding weddings and family reunions). Delta has more than 2,000 such contracts in place.​”

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When Delta eventually cut ties with the NRA the following day, it joined nearly two dozen other companies who had already done the same, including United Airlines, First National Bank of Omaha, Enterprise Holdings, security software company Symantec, home security company SimpliSafe, auto insurer MetLifecar rental firms Avis and Budgetmoving companies Allied and North American Van linessoftware company Wild Apricot, and car buying service TrueCar.

The NRA has called the decisions “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”