February 14, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
Revenue from an oil boom in North Dakota would chip in $60 million to develop the state’s aviation infrastructure, and more airports could apply for state grants, under two AOPA-supported bills brought forward in the state Senate.
Senate Bill 2013 would authorize appropriating up to $60 million generated by oil exploration in western North Dakota for aviation-infrastructure improvements from 2013 to 2015. The bill has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which requested its introduction.
A second measure, Senate Bill 2278, would widen airports’ ability to seek state grants by removing a requirement that an airport have airline service, or have had it in the past, to be eligible. The bill passed the Senate Feb. 4 and was sent to the House Feb. 6. Sponsors are Sens. Lonnie J. Laffen (R-District 43), John Andrist (R-District 2), Larry Robinson (D-District 24), and Ronald Sorvaag (R-District 45); and Reps. Kim Koppelman (R-District 13) and Wayne Trottier (R-District 19).
AOPA has sent letters of support to lawmakers on both proposals, and encourages members to urge their state lawmakers’ backing for the bills.
While the state has benefitted from the surge in oil extraction from the Bakkan Shale, oil-patch airports have come under unusual pressure from “the huge increase in activity,” said Bryan Budds, AOPA’s Great Lakes regional manager.
“This additional funding would provide critical support to maintain—and in some cases expand—airports in the region,” he said.
Both measures represent “huge steps forward for all of general aviation in North Dakota,” said Mark Kimberling AOPA director of state government affairs. “Additional airport funding, and expanding airport grant eligibility would grow general aviation’s ability to serve not only the oil-rich regions but the entire State of North Dakota,” he said.
Advocacy and Legislation,
When President Barack Obama travels to Hawaii for the holidays, a presidential TFR will be in place, but thanks to AOPA’s ongoing advocacy efforts, certain accommodations have been made for general aviation operations.
AOPA members are being encouraged to contact their representatives in support of a bill that would require the FAA to go through the rulemaking process.
Since Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act on Dec. 11, the pilot community has been abuzz with the possibilities of the bill that would allow pilots to use a driver’s license as a medical certificate for noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats, as long as they carry five or fewer passengers, fly below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.