AOPA President Mark Baker spent time meeting with key general aviation allies in Congress to thank them for their help and seek additional support on critical issues, including third class medical reform.
“Advocating for our members is a vital part of my job as AOPA president,” Baker said. “Our government affairs team is on the Hill every day, so when I meet with senators and members of Congress, they know I’m speaking on behalf of general aviation pilots in their districts, in their states, and nationwide—and that matters to them.”
During a hectic day on Capitol Hill, Baker met with Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), who co-chairs the Senate GA Caucus, has consistently taken a leadership role on third class medical reform, and is an original cosponsor of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, and John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee.
Baker also spent time with Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), a pilot, AOPA member, and cosponsor of Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2; Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Aviation Subcommittee; Collin Peterson (Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party), a pilot and original cosponsor of Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2; and Marc Veasey (D-Texas), who co-chairs the House GA Caucus.
During a visit with Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Baker presented him with the prestigious Joseph B. Hartranft Award. AOPA presents the award each year to an elected or appointed government official who has made significant contributions to the advancement of general aviation. It is named after AOPA’s first president and former chairman of the board, “Doc” Hartranft.
Shuster and Thune have particularly important roles to play in key issues now facing the GA community. The committees they chair will consider any third class medical reform legislation, including Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, and will play a significant role in developing the massive FAA reauthorization legislation needed to fund the agency over a multi-year period.
In each of his meetings, Baker emphasized the importance of third class medical reform to AOPA members and urged those who had not already done so to sign on as cosponsors of Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which would allow thousands more pilots to fly without needing to obtain a third class medical certificate. The bill also provides a range of other protections for pilots, particularly when facing FAA enforcement actions. Baker also raised other key issues, including FAA funding, NextGen modernization, and the high cost to equip for the FAA’s 2020 Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out mandate.
“These were productive conversations with legislators who recognize that general aviation is both a significant economic engine and an important element of our national transportation network,” said Baker. “I look forward to continuing to work with them as we address the big issues facing GA and build an environment where general aviation can grow and thrive.”