Ohio Office of Aviation to have responsibility for security at GA airports
Current language in Senate Bill 9, the Homeland Security bill that is moving its way through the Ohio General Assembly, would require the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Office of Aviation to jointly adopt rules regarding the security of public-use and private-use airports.
However, Ohio Aviation Administrator Jim Bryant announced Tuesday at the Ohio Airports Conference that a "gentlemen's agreement" had been reached between the DPS and Office of Aviation in which the office will write the rules with the DPS serving in an advisory capacity only.
"AOPA commends Administrator Bryant and his staff for ensuring that people familiar with the intricacies of airport operations will be responsible for writing security rules for Ohio's GA airports," said AOPA Manager of Regional Affairs Owen Sweeney.
The Ohio Senate unanimously passed S.B. 9 in March. The bill is now in the House and has been referred to the House Transportation, Public Safety, and Homeland Security Committee.
The Ohio Aviation Association (OAA) is attempting to persuade the Ohio General Assembly to adopt a new 3-cent per gallon tax on avgas and jet fuel A to be placed into a dedicated fund to pay for improvements at the state's publicly owned general aviation airports. But AOPA doesn't think implementing a new tax is such a good idea.
In conversations with OAA officers and attendees at this week's Ohio Airports Conference in Columbus, AOPA Manager of Regional Affairs Owen Sweeney explained that while AOPA understands the group's concerns, "Our members have made it clear that they do not want new taxes imposed on GA." Sweeney acknowledged that most states, not just Ohio, have seen state airport funds decline, but that a new state tax just on GA pilots "is not the answer." Sweeney also reminded OAA board members that no organization is more dedicated than AOPA to preventing the closure of airports.
"A new tax imposed on fuel in Ohio is a bad idea for our members, especially with escalating fuel prices," said AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Roger Cohen. "Our priority in Ohio is getting our pilots' registration fees reduced. Moreover, in our experience, 'dedicated' funds have a funny way of getting 'un-dedicated' by legislators during lean fiscal times."
Cohen further noted that legislators very often view dedicated funds as a justification to cut airport support from a state's general fund. "Ohio's current general fund appropriation to the Division of Aviation is greater than the estimated revenues the new tax would bring in. This is a trade-off that likely will hurt aviation in Ohio," he said.
April 14, 2005