Georgia Lawmakers Punish Delta Air Lines Over NRA Feud

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The Republican-controlled Georgia Legislature approved a tax bill Thursday that eliminates a fuel tax break that primarily benefits Delta.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday that he plans to sign the broader tax bill, even if it's without the airline tax break he had pushed for.

Bastian admitted the decision created controversy at Delta.

Delta isn't the only company to take action since the February 14 slayings of 17 students and educators in Parkland, Florida, by a gunman armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle.

The Feb. 14 slayings of 17 students and educators in Parkland, Florida, by a gunman armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle has prompted retailers including Walmart, Kroger and Dick's Sporting Goods to tighten their gun sales policies.

Delta's decision last weekend to stop the discounted fares for the NRA triggered a showdown with pro-gun Republican lawmakers in Georgia.

The fuel-tax exemption was worth at least an estimated $38 million to Delta and other airlines.

Bastian said the company's decision to end its relationship with the NRA was not made for "economic gain" and that its "values are not for sale".

Delta joined United Airlines and several other American companies in dropping ties to the powerful gun advocacy organisation after activists called for a boycott of the NRA's corporate partners on social media.

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"I hope they are better at flying airplanes than timing P.R. announcements", said Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican.

The Senate passed the tax measure 44-10, with Democrats accounting for all of the no votes.

In a Wednesday letter, Stacey Evans urged Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to investigate Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's recent tweet in which Cagle said he would "kill" tax legislation benefiting Delta unless the airline reverses its stance.

Cagle took a softer tone in celebrating victory Thursday. Cagle is running to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, who criticized the controversy as an "unbecoming squabble" fueled by election-year posturing. "And the product we have today is something that all of us can be very proud of".

Despite the day's tax talk blame game, the governor emphasized the $5 billion tax cut over five years is the day's biggest story.

Georgia's lieutenant governor took to the Fox News Channel to defend his controversial threat to block a proposed sales tax exemption on jet fuel unless Delta Air Lines restores the travel discount it had offered to members of the National Rifle Association. "We're the leaders of this state and we need to be coming together for solutions, not bullying corporations who are trying to do the right thing".

On Monday the Atlanta-based company was targeted by Republican lawmakers who blocked a bill that would have given Delta a roughly $40 million tax exemption.

"Cagle threatened to use his elected office to impose retribution against Delta, one of Georgia's largest private employers, unless Delta conformed to his personal ideology", said Evans, who held a press conference Thursday to reiterate her claim. "I think it does not enhance our chances to get Amazon".