Governor-elect Jennifer M. Granholm
George W. Romney Bldg.
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909
Dear Governor-elect Granholm:
As president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world's largest general aviation organization with over 389,000 members nationwide and 12,420 members in Michigan, congratulations and best wishes on your recent gubernatorial victory!
As you assume office, there are two issues facing the state of Michigan that is of great importance to AOPA and our members. As you may know the previous administration signed a law requiring criminal background checks for fight students that AOPA strongly opposed and is now challenging in federal court. The second issue is the recently implemented plan of merging the Bureau of Aeronautics within the Department of Transportation.
As to the first issue, AOPA has great concerns regarding the state's attorney trying to regulate federal airspace access. We strongly opposed Michigan Senate Bill 934 and Senate Bill 1006 requiring criminal background checks of flight students, which were signed into law in May. AOPA has filed a lawsuit (02 CV 73191) in U.S. District Court that challenges the state's authority to regulate aviation in such a manner on the basis of the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. In fact, AOPA has a legal opinion rendered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that was filed with our motion for a preliminary injunction in which the FAA's legal council says, "the qualifications of the persons operating aircraft are determined according to federal rules and should not be subject to standards varying from state to state." Please consider the implications of trying to uphold this poorly enacted state law and allow the federal government to enact any necessary aviation security regulations.
Regarding the second issue concerning the transfer of the Michigan Bureau of Aeronautics to the MDOT, we urge you to consider a way to preserve the functions and value of the Michigan Bureau of Aeronautics as a separate division with the Department of Transportation. The Bureau of Urban and Public Transportation is already expected to provide a network of transportation services for passenger rail service, freight service, local public transit, marine, and inner-city bus transportation. The addition of aviation to their duties will, at best, be difficult to manage and will bury the needs of aviation in additional layers of bureaucracy. Without the expertise and leadership of the dedicated aviation staff within the Bureau of Aeronautics, the safety and development needs of your state airports will suffer.
Our members in Michigan look to your leadership to guide and protect Michigan's thriving air transportation system. I offer any help that my office might be able to provide you or members of your staff. A brochure is enclosed that our association designed to show the critical role that general aviation plays in our nation's economy. The brochure also includes a CD-ROM that provides a tour of our new and informative Web site on the importance of general aviation.
Again, I offer my sincere congratulations to you and your lieutenant governor. I look forward to working with you in the future.
December 11, 2002