Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

By Ben Nadler; and R.J. Rico

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

By Ben Nadler; and R.J. Rico

Article excerpt

Byline: The Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Georgia's governor on Wednesday criticized the "unbecoming squabble" that has engulfed the state Capitol since fellow Republicans threatened to punish Delta Air Lines for cutting business ties with the National Rifle Association.

Gov. Nathan Deal, serving his final year in office, broke his silence on the controversy during a news conference with an apparent jab at candidates running to succeed him. He said a tax overhaul bill caught up in the debate had been "put at risk by the types of antics that tend to plague election years."

Deal did not name Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a gubernatorial contender who tweeted Monday that he would kill a proposed tax break on jet fuel as retribution after Atlanta-based Delta said it would no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members.

Fellow Republican candidates joined Cagle in shaming Delta, one of Georgia's largest employers. After three days of national headlines, Deal sought to assuage anyone who might doubt Georgia's business-friendly reputation -- including Amazon, which chose the state as a finalist for its second headquarters.

"Ours is a welcoming state, the epitome of Southern hospitality," Deal said. "We were not elected to give the late-night talk show hosts further fodder for their monologues, or to act with the type of immaturity that has caused so many in our society to be skeptical about politics."

Regardless, a proposal supported by the governor to end the state's sales tax on jet fuel -- which would primarily benefit Delta -- remains in jeopardy because of the controversy. The Republican-dominated Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday stripped the tax break from a broader tax bill.

Deal said he intends to sign the larger tax measure, which now goes to the full Senate, in whatever form it passes. He said he will keep pursuing the jet fuel tax exemption as a separate issue.

Delta's decision to cut ties with the NRA followed the deadly Valentine's Day school shooting in Florida. …

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