Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2017
ST. PAUL, MINN. – Members of three professional aviation organizations in Minnesota gathered April 26, 2017 to meet with their respective state legislators at the State Capitol in St. Paul. Meetings were scheduled in advance. Topics discussed ranged from airport development to tuition reimbursement for Minnesota residents seeking careers in aviation.
Event coordinator, Gordon Hoff of the Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA), and representatives of the Minnesota Council of Airports (MCOA) and Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA), created the following list of talking points:
1. The importance of adequately funding the Minnesota Airport System, and the correlation between a community having a good airport and a strong economy.
2. Support for proposed changes to Minnesota airport zoning statutes, which would improve the integration of airport zoning with local planning and zoning.
3. Remind legislators that the Minnesota Airports Fund is totally user fee generated through the aircraft registration tax, flight property tax, and fuel tax, and that no general funds are used for airport development.
4. Aviation has a $12.1 billion economic impact on the Minnesota economy, and provides nearly 165,000 jobs, generating more than $6.4 billion in labor income.
5. Medium and small general aviation airports are important to local businesses, and are used for medical air services, firefighting, aerial application, and the inspection of pipelines and transmission lines. Only nine (9) airports in Minnesota are served by the airlines, while all 134 public-use airports are used by general aviation.
The featured speaker of the event was Representative Paul Torkelson (R), a farmer from Hanska, Minnesota (District: 16B). Rep. Torkelson was recently appointed chairman of the House Transportation Finance Committee, and when asked if he knew that the aviation community was made up of three segments – airlines, military and general aviation – he elaborated on the importance of general aviation to the air transportation system.
Torkelson, 64, was first elected in 2008, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Gustavus Adolphus College, is married, has two children, and has flown in small general aviation aircraft.
Minnesota Aviation Day At The Capitol will be expanded in 2018 to involve more airport managers and commission members, and pilots and pilot organizations, including the Minnesota Pilots Association (MPA), Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association (MSPA), Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), Commemorative Air Force (CAF), and Chapters of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). In addition, airport consultants, aircraft manufacturers, corporate flight department managers, and other leaders throughout the Minnesota aviation community, will be encouraged to participate. For details, stay tuned to future issues of Midwest Flyer Magazine in print and online at www.MidwestFlyer.com.