Assemblyman Gordon Johnson
and AOPA's Owen Sweeney
Two years ago AOPA fought - and won - an eleventh hour battle in New Jersey to turn back a state bill that would have subjected flight training applicants to fingerprinting and background checks. When Assemblyman Gordon Johnson reintroduced the legislation earlier this month, AOPA worked to stop it in its tracks.
AOPA's Manager of Regional Affairs Owen Sweeney and Eastern Regional Representative Bill Leavens arranged a meeting with Johnson in Trenton to discuss AOPA's concerns about Assembly Bill 4043.
"Assemblyman Johnson was very gracious and took the time to listen to AOPA's position on his bill. He understood that its provisions are preempted by federal regulations and agreed not to pursue consideration of A.B. 4043 at this time," said Sweeney.
In a follow-up letter to Johnson, Sweeney detailed the extensive federal requirements for flight instruction and explained that "maintaining such authority at the federal level ensures a national standard and consistency across the country, and it is for this reason that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has ruled that state lawmaking regarding pilot qualification to be preempted."
In addition to the bill's onerous background check provisions, it also would require aeronautical facilities, flight schools, or institutions of higher learning that offer flight instruction to maintain a permanent register of applicants. The data would have to be available for inspection by the state's commissioner of transportation and federal, state, and local law enforcement officers. The bill is currently in the Assembly's Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.
May 24, 2005