Feb. 2, 2004 — AOPA's message that who may and may not fly in the National Airspace System is the sole domain of the federal government is finally taking hold with New Jersey lawmakers. A concerted blitz by AOPA staff, Eastern Regional Representative Bill Leavens, AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers, and AOPA members has convinced lawmakers to put off action on a bill to require pilot background checks.
A key staff member of the state senate's Transportation Committee said at a meeting with AOPA representatives last week that lawmakers are unlikely to take up the bill (S.B. 148) at this time, due mostly to AOPA's repeated assurances that dramatic improvements in GA security and existing federal safeguards make the state legislation unnecessary.
In the meeting, AOPA outlined the federal government actions implemented to address security concerns, including recent modifications to checks of non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training. The transportation aide indicated that the legislation is not now scheduled for consideration. More importantly, he said that New Jersey legislators are now aware of the federal preemption issues AOPA had raised.
AOPA's Vice President of Regional Affairs Roger Cohen credits the team effort of Leavens and the ASN volunteers and AOPA members in helping to deliver that message to lawmakers. "The unified voice of our membership sends a very powerful message to lawmakers," said Cohen.
Despite the positive developments, AOPA will continue pushing for the bill's withdrawal and will monitor New Jersey's legislative calendar to make sure the bill does not come up for action.