Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is expected to announced today legislation that would provide tax brakes for the commercial space industry. The Commercial Space Jobs and Investment Act would establish up to five enterprise zones around the country where businesses involved in the commercial space industry could get a variety of tax breaks or credits; the legislation would also provide tax credits for investment in such companies (the credits would be valued at 20 percent of their investment, which would have to remain in place for five years, according to the AP.)
The legislation faces two major challenges. One is that there’s no offset for the cost of the legislation, which would depend on just how many companies and investors take advantage of the bill. The second is that Nelson is introducing the bill very late in the current Congress: given the limited time left this year, even with a lame-duck session after November’s elections, it seems at first glance unlikely that the bill would make it through unless attached to other legislation.
In addition to Nelson’s legislation, details are emerging about the plan to provide $40 million in support to the Space Coast to help offset job losses and other economic impacts from the retirement of the shuttle. President Obama, who announced the funding in his April 15th speech at the Kennedy Space Center, asked for a plan by August 15th. Most of that money, $35 million, will go for grants to support businesses in several markets, including aviation, clean energy, homeland security, information technology and life sciences. The other $5 million would be for a proposed FAA commercial space center at Cape Canaveral, few details of which were disclosed. More details about the plan are due out today.