December 2, 2004
Feb. 12, 2004 - AOPA paid tribute recently to one of general aviation's best friends in the Florida State Capitol. Acting on behalf of AOPA President Phil Boyer and AOPA's 29,000 Florida members, Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes presented the chairman of the Florida House Transportation Committee, State Rep. David Russell (R-Dist. 44), with a Presidential Citation. The presentation was made during the Florida Airports Council's legislative summit in Tallahassee.
"Representative Russell has been instrumental in passing legislation favorable to general aviation and in blocking unfavorable bills," said Rhodes. "He was a key opponent to a measure that would have eliminated the state's tax on airline fuel that would have greatly reduced the funds available for GA airport grants. And in the days immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks, he was the calming voice that helped derail two bills that would have regulated flight training in the state."
In addition to chairing the House Transportation Committee, Russell is an influential member of the Appropriations Committee. As such, he has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the state airport aid program has continued to grow, even in tight economic times. He has backed legislation that enhanced state aviation and airports, including the SAFE Act that created a council to improve the state's aviation development.
While in the state capital, Rhodes attended meetings of both the House and Senate Transportation committees and met with a number of legislators on items important to AOPA members.
High-priority legislative issues for 2004 are protecting the $91.6 million in airport aid proposed in Governor Jeb Bush's (R-Fla.) budget and opposing any effort to fund the proposed Florida High Speed Rail program using money that would otherwise be used to fund the state's Aviation Work Program in 2004 and beyond. Governor Bush is on record opposing the high-speed rail program as well.
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