Effective immediately, no one seeking flight instruction in Michigan will have to subject themselves to a criminal background check. Governor Jennifer Granholm has signed an AOPA-supported bill repealing that state's onerous background check law.
"AOPA was pleased to work with State Rep. Stephen Ehardt (R-83rd Dist.) to make this happen," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Rep. Ehardt crafted a bill that addresses the state's legitimate security concerns without preempting federal authority or placing undue burden on pilots and student pilots."
The new Michigan law takes effect immediately upon the governor's signature. It repeals the criminal background check requirement and substitutes a number of common-sense security requirements for flight schools. Those requirements include procedures to identify a student pilot or renter, controlling aircraft keys, and displaying signs requesting pilots to report suspicious activities.
Last year, the Michigan legislature passed a law requiring any student pilot or pilot seeking a new rating or certificate in the state to submit to being fingerprinted and obtain a criminal background check. AOPA had vigorously opposed the law.
AOPA then filed suit against the state of Michigan in federal court, arguing that the state's law mandating criminal background checks was unconstitutional because it violated the supremacy clause (Article 6, paragraph 2).
Both the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration submitted letters to the court supporting AOPA's position that only the federal government can regulate airman certification.