California flight schools could have an 18-month reprieve from financially burdensome new regulations—and a chance to plead their case to the legislature—if a bill supported by several state lawmakers is passed.
The California Private Postsecondary Act of 2009, which is meant to protect students at postsecondary schools and provide more business accountability, requires flight schools to pay multiple new administrative fees and open their books to regulators. AOPA, NATA, and other members of the aviation community have explained that the financial burdens imposed by the law could be insurmountable for many flight schools, and worked with lawmakers to propose legislation that would require the legislature to evaluate the potential implications of the law on flight instruction and aircraft maintenance programs.
California Assemblyman Roger Niello, along with Assembly member Alberto Torrico and 13 coauthors in the Assembly and Senate, have proposed delaying enforcement of the new law against flight schools and maintenance operations through 2011.
"It's important that when an unforeseen and unintended consequence occurs after the passage of legislation, that we recognize that and adjust accordingly," Niello told AOPA. "In this case, the legislature did not take into account the unique nature of the flight instruction industry in California with the passage of AB 48 [the California Private Postsecondary Act of 2009]. California already has a difficult regulatory climate for businesses to navigate. We can't continue down that path. The Legislature needs to pass AB 1140 and provide the extension for the industry while it evaluates the appropriate level of regulation that will protect students and ensure the viability of the industry."
It is intended to go into effect immediately upon passage, but the legislature started the July recess before it could vote on the bill. The impending budget debate also threatens to delay action
"This bill would prohibit the bureau, for the period July 1, 2010, to December 31, 2011, inclusive, from enforcing the act against institutions that offer flight instruction or institutions that offer Federal Aviation Administration certified educational programs in aircraft maintenance. The bill would also require the Legislature to hold public informational hearings for the purpose of reviewing the appropriateness of regulating educational programs in flight instruction and aircraft maintenance under the act," the bill reads. Among the coauthors is Assembly member Jean Fuller, who introduced a resolution earlier this year to call on those on Capitol Hill to protect general aviation.
Another bill, AB 1889, introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, includes a provision that would also delay implementation of these new flight school regulations and require the legislature to review the appropriateness of regulating certain aviation education programs over the next year. AOPA California Regional Representative John Pfeifer testified in favor of the bill before the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee on June 28. The committee passed the bill by a margin of 6 to 1, but no additional action has been scheduled for this legislation.