March 6, 2014
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
A bill that would ensure aircraft registration fees in Washington State are used to fund aviation is awaiting action in the state's House of Representatives, and AOPA is urging members to contact their legislators to express their support for the measure.
SB 5430 passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority on March 4, moving the legislation to the House, where it is awaiting committee assignment. The bill would allocate 100 percent of the annual excise tax on aircraft to the Washington Department of Transportation Aviation Division. The money could then be used to fund the state's airport aid grant program, which provides money for maintenance, capacity, and safety projects at Washington's 134 public-use airports. The money would also be available to provide needed matching funds for federal airport improvement program grants.
Aircraft owners in Washington State pay an annual excise tax that ranges from $20 to $125 each year. Under current law, 90 percent of that money goes to the state's general fund and only 10 percent goes to aviation programs. SB 5430 wouldn't change the amount of tax paid, but would ensure that the money raised supports aviation by providing an additional $640,000 to the state's Aviation Division during every two-year budget cycle.
AOPA is urging members to contact their representatives in the state House to ask them to support the bill and urge its quick passage. Washington's state legislative session will end March 12, and aviation advocates hope the bill will pass into law before the session closes. State residents can find contact information for their representative at the Washington State Legislature's website.
AOPA has been deeply engaged in advocating for the measure, making multiple visits to Olympia to meet with state legislatures. The association also has worked closely with local aviation associations to advance the bill. On March 5, the group sent a letter to House leadership urging quick passage of the bill.
In addition to AOPA, the letter was signed by leaders of the National Business Aviation Association, Washington Airport Management Association, Washington State Community Airports Association, Pacific Northwest Business Association, Washington Pilots Association, Washington Seaplane Pilots Association, Washington Public Ports Association, and Washington Aviation Association.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
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