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The Latest: Speaker says Delta tax break faces ‘tough climb’

November 13, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the special session of the Georgia legislature (all times local):

3:52 p.m.

The speaker of the Georgia House is predicting a “tough climb” ahead for a proposed tax break on jet fuel that’s once again before lawmakers.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle earlier this year led Republican legislators in killing the $38 million tax exemption to punish Delta Air Lines after it dropped fare discounts for members of the National Rifle Association. Gov. Nathan Deal restored the perk over the summer with an executive order.

Now the legislature must revisit the issue as the House and Senate kicked off a special session Tuesday. State law requires lawmakers to ratify the governor’s order, or airlines will owe sales taxes retroactively.

Ralston said he’s got “serious concerns” that Delta and other airlines haven’t justified a need for the tax break.

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10:30 a.m.

A powerful committee chairman in the Georgia House has died just as lawmakers are gathering for a special session in Atlanta.

House Rules Chairman John Meadows, a Republican from Calhoun, died Tuesday morning at age 74. House Speaker David Ralston confirmed Meadows’ death and called the seven-term lawmaker “outwardly fierce and courageous but he was, at the same time, one of the kindest and most generous souls you have ever met.”

As Rules chairman, Meadows wielded considerable power. The committee serves as a gatekeeper in deciding which proposals go before the full House for a vote.

Meadows was a former U.S. Marine who also served 13 years as mayor of Calhoun. His 5th District seat included Gordon and Murray counties in north Georgia.

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5:40 a.m.

Georgia lawmakers are returning to the Capitol for a special session focused on funding for hurricane recovery and reconsidering a tax break on jet fuel.

The House and Senate were scheduled to convene Tuesday morning. Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the special session last week.

The governor’s proclamation limited lawmakers to deciding just two issues. First, Deal wants approval of $270 million in state funding for cleanup and recovery costs in parts of southwest Georgia devastated by Hurricane Michael.

Deal is also asking lawmakers to take another shot at approving a tax break on jet fuel. Republican legislators killed it earlier this year to punish Delta Air Lines for ending discounts for National Rifle Association members. Deal restored the perk with an executive order suspending collection of the 4-percent tax.

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