Advocacy—is it “a contact sport”? A team sport?
Both, if you want to get the job done.
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager, summarizing the message he brought on behalf of AOPA members to a meeting of airport executives in Massachusetts on Oct. 28 and 29.
Collins was a scheduled speaker at the Massachusetts Airport Management Association’s annual conference held at a historic inn in Sturbridge. He addressed the all-important subject, “Advocacy—Keeping the Pressure On.”
Collins reviewed AOPA’s regional advocacy programs, and discussed how the association and industry leaders could work together to defend hard-won legislative victories such as the Massachusetts sales tax exemption for aircraft purchases, maintenance, and storage, against any new repeal effort. AOPA also recently helped stopped two other Massachusetts bills that would have raised taxes on aircraft owners.
“For those working in the advocacy arena, lobbying is a contact sport,” Collins said. “After successfully lobbying the Massachusetts legislature to return $34 million to the Aeronautics Department’s allocation from a five-year transportation bond bill, it is natural to anticipate possibly having to defend the tax exemptions from which the local industry has benefited,” he said.
The whole allocation totaled $89 million, to be used for projects such as pavement improvement and new or refurbished airport administration buildings that are not eligible for federal airport improvement funding, Collins said.
“Fortunately, the state’s Aeronautics Department receives funding for updating the Statewide Airport Economic Impact Report every three years, and AOPA is a member of the project management team, using that platform to educate pilots and lawmakers alike on the direct cost benefits of the industry.”
Conferences such as the MAMA annual meeting “provide an opportunity for AOPA to educate others in the industry and align the many parties’ advocacy efforts,” he said.