APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF SOUTH DAKOTA.
O'connor, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. White, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 135.
JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case we consider whether the South Dakota Airline Flight Property Tax, S. D. Codified Laws, ch. 10-29 (1982), violates the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982, 49 U. S. C. App. § 1513(d). We conclude that because the South Dakota Airline Flight Property Tax is an "in lieu tax which is wholly utilized for airport and aeronautical purposes," 49 U. S. C. App. § 1513(d)(3), the tax does not violate § 1513(d).
The federal provision at issue is part of a series of congressional actions dedicated to improving the Nation's air transportation system. Aloha Airlines, Inc. v. Director of Page 125} Taxation, 464 U.S. 7, 8-10 (1983). In 1970, following findings that "substantial expansion and improvement of the airport and airway system is [sic] required to meet the demands of interstate commerce, the postal service, and the national defense," H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 91-1074, p. 29 (1970), Congress required the Secretary of Transportation to prepare a plan for the development of public airports, and authorized the Secretary to make grants to States and localities for airport development. Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970, Pub. L. 91-258, 84 Stat. 219. Congress also established an Airport and Airway Trust Fund, maintained by federal aviation taxes, to finance airport development projects. § 208, 84 Stat. 250. Soon afterward, Congress acted to limit state taxation of air transportation. Concluding that state passenger use taxes placed "an unnecessary burden on interstate commerce," and had "a stifling effect on air transportation," H. R. Rep. No. 93-157, p. 4 (1973), Congress prohibited such taxes in the Airport Development Acceleration Act of 1973, Pub. L. 93-44, § 7(a), 87 Stat. 90.
In the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982, 96 Stat. 701, Congress added a § 7(d) to the Airway Development Acceleration Act of 1973, prohibiting the imposition of discriminatory property taxes on air carriers. That prohibition, as codified at 49 U. S. C. App. § 1513(d), reads:
"(d) Acts which unreasonably burden and discriminate against interstate commerce; definitions
"(1) The following acts unreasonably burden and discriminate against interstate commerce and a State, subdivision of a State, or authority acting for a State or subdivision of a State may not do any of them:
"(A) assess air carrier transportation property at a value that has a higher ratio to the true market value of the air carrier transportation property than the ratio that the assessed value of other commercial and industrial property of the same type in the same assessment jurisdiction has to the true market value of the other commercial and industrial property;
"(B) levy or collect a tax on an assessment that may not be made under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph; or
"(C) levy or collect an ad valorem property tax on air carrier transportation property at a tax rate that exceeds the tax rate applicable to commercial and industrial property in the same assessment jurisdiction.
"(2) In this subsection --
"(D) 'commercial and industrial property' means property, other than transportation property and land used primarily for agricultural purposes or timber growing, devoted to commercial and industrial use and subject to a property tax levy; . . .
"(3) This subsection shall not apply to any in lieu tax which is wholly utilized for airport ...