by Kyle Lewis
Regional Manager For Government Affairs & Airport Advocacy
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2017/January 2018 issue
As 2017 winds down, the 2018 legislative sessions are ready to swing into high gear. I have already had preliminary meetings with state legislators and other advocacy groups to get a head start on what will be a busy season. Nearly all the Great Lakes states resume regular session during the first two weeks of January 2018. North Dakota is the only exception, with no regular session scheduled. I will give you a briefing on what I am working on for the new year.
• Michigan House Bills 4350/4351: These two “sister” pieces of legislation are very important to aircraft owners and aircraft maintenance shops in Michigan. They will provide a sales tax exemption on parts and labor for aircraft registered in Michigan. Currently, a trend has occurred allowing Michigan aircraft owners to take their business out of state and receive sales tax exemptions in the surrounding states of Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Maintenance shops in Michigan have suffered, and this legislation will level the playing field, allowing aircraft owners to stay in their home state and do business. On October 3rd, Bill White, Aerospace Services & Products, and Greg Schmidt, Pentastar Aviation, testified before the Senate Finance Committee and in turn 4350 and 4351 were unanimously voted out of the Senate Finance Committee and will go before the full Senate. The Michigan Business Aviation Association has been leading the charge advocating these bills, and I have provided testimony on behalf of AOPA. If you are a Michigan aircraft owner, this could have an impact on your future maintenance costs.
• Ohio House Bill 183: Creates the Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame. Can you believe the “Birthplace of Aviation” does not have a hall of fame? HB 183 looks to correct that. The bill was introduced in April of 2017 by Rep. Rick Perales of Ohio’s 73rd District and has been passed out of initial committee and will be up for a vote on the house floor in 2018. The bill will create a governing board of the Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame and Learning Center for the purpose of establishing the hall and inducting persons into it. AOPA will be supporting the bill.
• Ohio House Bill 256: Introduced on May 24, 2017, the bill creates the Major Air Hub Council; requires the Council to construct two commercial service airports, one in Fayette County and one in Portage County; and creates the Southern Ohio Airport Authority and the Northern Ohio Airport Authority to operate the airports. This legislation is problematic from my viewpoint. I question as to why two (2) new airports are needed when Ohio has multiple commercial service airports already in existence, none of which are currently “airline hubs.” There are logistical concerns of building the airports and airspace factors that would certainly hinder GA air traffic in both regions. The legislation is still in the Transportation and Public Safety Committee, and AOPA will be opposing. I would ask that the monies spent on two new airports be invested in GA airports across Ohio.
Among the above listed items, others are in the works that I do not have enough information on at this time. Included is legislation in Michigan that will protect seaplane operations, and legislation in Illinois that will put funding into GA from fuel sales tax. Other items being watched are changes in the Michigan aircraft registration fees (currently a “penny per pound”). Minnesota will be looking at zoning policy updates for compatible land use around airports, and I have had preliminary discussions on the subject and look forward to working on bringing the changes into effect. I hope to work with state officials in Ohio on holding an official state aviation day to promote the value of General Aviation to lawmakers and the citizens of that state.
I would like to switch topics and bring attention to a very important program AOPA has administered for a long time. The “Airport Support Network” (ASN), and the volunteers that make up the program are instrumental in our airport advocacy work here at AOPA. As we approach the end of 2017, I would like to thank all the volunteers in my region, and those who have assisted in gathering information or providing insight on issues that have been ongoing. Our volunteers come from many backgrounds with a variety of aviation experience, but all are passionate about their airports and their freedom to fly. I am looking forward to some positive changes that will be coming to the program in 2018, and I will highlight those changes once they are implemented. If you would like to volunteer to be AOPA’s eyes and ears for an airport, please contact me and I can get you started on the process.
To highlight how relevant the ASN program is, AOPA has been involved with ongoing work at Coleman A. Young International Airport (formerly Detroit City Airport until 2003 – KDET). The Coleman A. Young International Airport Education Association has been formed to educate the community and city administration on the value of the airport. KDET has been neglected to a point of concern by previous and current city administrations. AOPA’s ASN volunteer sits on the coalition and provides feedback to AOPA and the members of the association on what course of action is needed. AOPA strongly supports the work of the coalition and has already started a media campaign to bring attention to the situation. Visit the association’s website at www.supportkdet.org to learn more.
I am looking forward to the positive influence we can bring to General Aviation in 2018 and hope to see some of you in my travels across the Great Lakes Region. I am here to serve you! (firstname.lastname@example.org)