The Republican-controlled legislature of the U.S. state of Georgia voted on Thursday to pass a sweeping tax bill that scrapped a jet-fuel tax that directly benefited Delta Airlines, in retaliation over the company's NRA policy.
On Thursday, both houses approved the bill, after dropping a fuel tax exemption for Delta.
Republican state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler said Tuesday that officials were working behind the scenes to resolve the dispute that erupted when Delta announced it would no longer offer discounted rates to NRA members.
But that decision angered Georgia's Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who responded by warning Delta: Either reestablish ties with the NRA, or say goodbye to your tax break.
The governors of CT and NY, also Democrats, have also pitched their states to the airline, according to The Associated Press, which says the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, and a congressional representative from OH "also have reached out to Delta in recent days". The bill includes $5 billion in tax cuts for Georgians.
Delta did not immediately comment on the votes, but the controversy has prompted several states in recent days to lobby the airline to relocate its headquarters. A number of US companies have rescinded discounts previously offered to NRA members. The airline, though, said it would remain "neutral" in the debate over gun control and that it was in the "process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature". "Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale", he wrote.
The move capped a week in which Delta joined other US companies in cutting business ties with the NRA after a shooting last month at a Florida high school, in which 17 people were killed.
But the legislative punishment, which was estimated to save Delta and other airlines $38 million, failed to persuade the company to change its position.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, tweeted Tuesday: "Hey [Delta] -Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs". We asked if they were financially supporting his campaign, and he said no.
Delta said the lawmakers misunderstood its attempt to stay neutral.
"We are proud and honored to locate our headquarters here", he said.
A cynic could argue that those companies that cut ties with the NRA are betting any loss of sales will be more than made up by those who support their decision and will especially be appreciated by the younger people who are their future customer base.
"Even as strong supporters of the Second Amendment, we feel now is the time to have a meaningful discussion about common-sense reform with the intent of finding a solution". It was the most significant blowback yet after the carrier said last week it was cutting ties with the NRA following a Florida school massacre.