A bill in the Minnesota legislature to make the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) more responsive to the needs of aviation is advancing quickly. The MAC controls seven commercial and general aviation airports in the Twin Cities area.
AOPA staffers have been in the Minnesota statehouse since Wednesday to lobby for H.F. 2086, sponsored by State Rep. Michael Beard (R-Dist. 35A), an AOPA member. The bill already has cleared the House Local Government Committee. Friday morning, AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn testified before the Transportation Policy Committee, which also approved the bill. Meanwhile, Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Ann Rest (DFL-Dist. 45) has introduced a companion measure, indicating bipartisan support for reforming the MAC in both houses of the legislature.
The bill would require that appointees to the MAC not only have some aviation experience, but that they also be confirmed by the legislature. Currently, the governor appoints MAC members without any oversight.
"Now more than ever, the MAC must be held accountable to all of its tenants, to aviation as an industry, not just one airline," Dunn testified Wednesday evening, referring to pressure from Northwest Airlines to shift some of its costs to general aviation users.
Dunn reminded the lawmakers that the legislature created the MAC years ago to build an airport system serving the needs of all users around the Twin Cities.
"But in recent years, that vision is growing much dimmer," Dunn said. "Recent unilateral MAC decisions essentially overturn and override decades of MAC policies and direction that at one time included a shared vision with the legislature for a balanced, efficient aviation transportation system.
"AOPA believes that the legislature must ensure that potential appointees to the MAC share the vision of the entire state - not just a particular governor - regarding a balanced, efficient, and world-class aviation transportation system."
Update: April 1, 2005