by Kyle Lewis
Regional Manager / Government Affairs & Airport Advocacy / Great Lakes
Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2018/January 2019 issue
In the last two months, I have been crossing the United States attending various events and conferences that AOPA has a vested interest. The first was the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO). NASAO brings together state aviation departments, aviation organizations, federal regulators, vendors, contractors and others. The conference was held in Oklahoma City, hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (DOT) Aeronautics Commission. This was an opportunity for me, and other AOPA staff to network and consult with aviation directors and staff across our regions. At times, our work on the legislative front ties in directly with state-level DOTs as it is usually their office that will benefit or become burdened by legislation. Zoning, registration fees, funding levels, and taxes all affect the operation of state DOTs. AOPA works to maintain relationships with these departments as the outcome of any legislation or rulemaking will eventually affect the aviation user and stakeholder. As an FYI, the NASAO 2019 conference will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota and hosted by the Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics.
Southern Illinois Airport (KMDH) hosted an AOPA Fly-In, October 5-6, 2018 in Carbondale, Illinois. I personally made the trip from southern Ohio to southern Illinois in my RV-12 and was extremely pleased with the hospitality and coordination of the event between the airport, Southern Illinois University and AOPA. Our events staff put in long hours and spend a lot of time away from home to bring these events out to our membership.
On Saturday of the fly-in, I hosted an Airport Support Network (ASN) reception and discussed ongoing airport issues across the region with our ASN Volunteers. David Ardrey, our ASN Volunteer for Southern Illinois Airport, was able to join us for a few minutes as he was a very busy person that weekend. David is also the Chairman of the Southern Illinois Airport Authority and was key in planning and hosting the event. He was able to promote the Airport Support Network Program while engaging the crowd during the pilot townhall meeting on Saturday afternoon. Thanks to David for all the hard work he put into the AOPA Fly-In and understanding the value of the ASN Program.
In mid-October, I attended the National Business Aviation Association, Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Orlando, Fla. with Steve Hedges (AOPA Southern Regional Manager), Tom George (AOPA Alaska Regional Manager), and Mike Ginter (AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy). As a group, we met with the NBAA Regional Team to discuss ongoing state legislative and airport issues that AOPA and NBAA share interest. NBAA offers perspective that can help influence the work we do on a state level and we are happy to work with such a world-class organization. The size and scale of the NBAA-BACE is mind-boggling, and nearly every corner of the aviation world was represented.
This fall has been active on the legislative side, some good and some not so good, as I will explain below:
•AOPA hosted a “General Aviation Advocacy Day” at the Ohio Statehouse on September 18th. The Ohio DOT Office of Aviation, Ohio Aviation Association (OAA), and EAA Chapter 9 represented aviation in Ohio by displaying in the rotunda during the day. On the west lawn of the statehouse, a Cirrus SR-22 static aircraft display decorated the grounds. The airplane was a huge draw to the public, legislators and staffers. A luncheon attended by nearly 70 staffers, legislators, ASN Volunteers and AOPA membership included presentations by AOPA, ODOT, and OAA. The event helped promote our legislative agenda for Ohio, which includes looking for more funding into the state grant program administered by the Ohio DOT Office of Aviation. The state is currently not in compliance with the FAA order on aviation fuel sales tax revenue. The aviation fund in Ohio is only at $6 million, drastically lower than the $16 million which is estimated to be brought in as sales tax revenue in the state. I will be working with the Ohio Aviation Association over the fall and winter months to look for legislative solutions to rectify the situation.
•Michigan House Bill 4350/4351 – Sales Tax Exemption for Parts and Labor, Michigan Based Aircraft. The legislation passed the Michigan Senate unanimously on September 26th and was presented to the Governor on October 4th. The Governor vetoed the bill on October 16th. The Governor cited that the loss of tax revenue would hurt the Michigan School Aid Fund with a loss of $4 million. The Michigan School Aid Fund sits at $24 billion. The veto is shortsighted on behalf of the Governor as the potential loss of quality aviation jobs and its effect on the economy will far outweigh the $4 million tax revenue loss into state coffers. The bill sponsor has commented that the legislation will be reintroduced in 2019. This was a hard loss as it had been noted that if it passed the Senate, the Governor would sign off. That happened to not be the case.
It is always a privilege to be able to communicate my work with you and as always, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org