AOPA works for members at the state and local level across the United States. Catch up on what the association has done for you recently in the Southern region.
South Carolina’s House Ways and Means Committee has approved an aviation funding proposal that will soon go to the full House for a vote. The bill would allot $5 million in annual aircraft property taxes to the state’s Aeronautical Commission to fund airport maintenance, education, and provide necessary matching funds for the nearly $60 million in Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grants the state receives each year. Currently South Carolina puts proceeds from aircraft property taxes into its general fund. AOPA has established a 22-member general aviation caucus among South Carolina lawmakers to support the aviation funding legislation. The South Carolina Aviation Association, a key organization backing the legislation, drew a record crowd to its annual conference. The three day-event featured safety and aviation issue speakers. They included an update by state Aeronautics Director James Stephens and a look at local safety issues by Bruce Landsberg, formerly the head of AOPA’s Aviation Safety Institute and the AOPA Foundation. More 350 people attended. In Georgia, the Atlanta Aero Club in January hosted a luncheon to welcome Dennis Roberts as the FAA’s next regional administrator for its Southern Region. Roberts previously held that post in the Northwest Mountain Region, among other positions with the FAA. Roberts also worked for four years as vice-president/executive director of Government and Technical Affairs at AOPA. AOPA and general aviation groups in Florida are hopeful that a measure that would eliminate or reduce the state’s six percent tax on aircraft will be included in this year’s state tax legislation. Those selling aircraft in the state often move their planes north to allow buyers to avoid the six percent tax. Florida is home to Piper Aircraft of Vero Beach and Embraer Executive jets of Melbourne. A recent economic impact study funded in part by AOPA showed that eliminating Florida’s aircraft sales tax would generate aircraft sales of $246 million annually, while creating 294 permanent jobs representing $38 million in annual economic activity. In addition, the increased aircraft sales would result in a $22.4 million rise in visitor spending.