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Controversial fee increases defeated in North Dakota

A proposal that would have cost AOPA members in North Dakota up to $175,000 in total increased aircraft registration charges has failed in the state Senate.

Advocacy—including action by AOPA members who voiced opposition to Senate Bill 2109—was key to the measure being tabled April 8 by the Senate in a session that followed a legislative conference committee meeting, said Bryan Budds, AOPA Great Lakes regional manager.

“Cumulatively, the defeat of this measure will save AOPA members between $150,000 and $175,000 annually,” he said.

Aircraft registration fees would have undergone a significant, immediate increase under the bill. The stage also would have been set for automatic fee increases “via a closed-door process and through indexing the aircraft registration fees to the consumer price index,” Budds said.

Before the vote, AOPA expressed its concerns about fairness of the fee provisions in a Feb. 27 letter to the chairman of the House Transportation Committee. 

AOPA followed up with an action message to the association’s 2,500 members in North Dakota, urging them to make their voices heard on numerous concerns about the bill. At the same time, Budds contacted members of the conference committee to express aircraft owners’ concerns.

“AOPA members recognize there is tremendous infrastructure need in North Dakota at this time,” he said. “However, a registration-fee modification of this type could not be supported as proposed.”

AOPA’s state government affairs team traveled to Bismarck as needed throughout the lawmaking session, and worked with bill sponsors, legislative leaders, and the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

After the bill’s defeat, Budds said, he remained optimistic “that adequate aviation system funding can be found through existing means—and we continue to support the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission’s mission to strengthen the State’s airport system.”

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.

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