March 30, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Legislation in Illinois that AOPA warned could further depress the state’s aviation economy will move forward without its most onerous provisions after a House vote March 28.
In a victory for pilots and aviation businesses in Illinois, the state House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 4444 minus provisions that would have doubled aircraft and pilot certificate registration fees, pushing some pilots to relocate based aircraft to less costly states.
The measure now moves to the state Senate with Aeronautics Office funding to maintain and upgrade aviation infrastructure and secure FAA Airport Improvement Program grants still intact—provisions that are supported by AOPA.
“The original bill contained fee increases which AOPA members could not support given the overall level of undedicated, existing aviation taxation in the state,” said Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs. “After extensive discussions in Springfield with legislators, the Aeronautics Division, and Gov. Pat Quinn’s staff, the fee increases were set aside to focus on the beneficial and more important provisions of the bill.”
AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds traveled to Springfield to explain the negative impacts of the original bill’s fee increases on behalf of AOPA members from across the state. The association will continue to support the bill as it moves ahead.
“Illinois aircraft owners and pilots already pay the second highest cumulative state and local tax rate in the country. The fee increases that were contained in the bill, no matter how small or incremental, would only have added to that high burden,” Kimberling said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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