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AOPA collaborating with government, industry on aviation legislation in Colorado

As a Colorado bill works through committee, AOPA and aviation advocacy organizations are promoting an amendment that will mitigate the negative impacts it would have on the aviation industry.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The original version of Colorado H.B.24-1235, Reduce Aviation Impacts on Communities, would have been particularly burdensome for general aviation pilots. After conversations between aviation stakeholders with an interest in keeping aviation in Colorado safe and accessible, and in a coordinated effort with the bill’s prime sponsors Kyle Brown (D-District 12) and Shannon Bird (D-District 29), the language most potentially harmful to aviation was successfully amended out of the bill as it passed through the Colorado House Transportation, Housing, and Local Government Committee.

Among the most potentially damaging language in the bill’s original form were plans to implement a “remediation fee” of up to 50 cents per gallon to be charged for 100LL avgas; instruction to finalize a plan by January 2026 to phase out sales of 100LL avgas at airports by 2030; enforcement of airport noise abatement plans that would limit operations such as arrivals, departures, and touch and goes; and mandated noise monitoring and lead testing. While portions of the language were well-intentioned—AOPA also hopes to see a safe and smart transition away from leaded avgas—the timeline of the provisions and their tendency toward federally prohibited restrictions to aviation concerned airport advocates, which is why they were amended with the support of lawmakers.

The Colorado aviation advocacy coalition—championed by the Colorado Aviation Business Association’s Chris Swathwood and the association’s lobbyist Kelly Sloan and joined by the Colorado Pilots Association, the Colorado Airport Operators Association, and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Aeronautics Division—was unanimous in agreeing that the amended bill, although imperfect, was not the existential threat it started as and would not negatively impact the aviation community. This was a huge team effort where AOPA and several other leading national aviation organizations as well as many local aviation and education organizations and a slew of individuals all participated in advocating for improvements to this bill. All participating stakeholders were both required and essential to securing the bill in its current form.

The bill also contains provisions that would positively and directly impact aircraft owners and airports in the state. The amended bill would approve state tax credits for aircraft owners of up to $500 to pay for the modification of aircraft that are powered by leaded avgas so that such aircraft can be certified to be powered by unleaded avgas. Additionally, CDOT Aeronautics Division funding was approved to be used to amend the infrastructure to Colorado airports supporting the transition to unleaded aviation fuels.

During a March 6 testimony in front of the House Transportation, Housing and Local Government Committee, AOPA Northwest Regional Manager Brad Schuster positively highlighted the amendment collaboration between aviation stakeholders and elected officials. He spoke about the progress of the Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative that complements the state’s mission to get out of avgas and touted the improvement of the bill after the committee implemented recommendations from the aviation industry.

The amended version of the bill passed unanimously in the House committee and has support across elected officials in Colorado. It still needs to go through several committees in the House and Senate before final consideration from Gov. Jared Polis. AOPA will continue to carefully monitor its progress to ensure that language in the bill and future amendments would not negatively impact the Colorado aviation ecosystem.

Although the eventual outcome of Colorado H.B.24-1235 appears to have materially improved, similar threats to aviation in the region continue to emerge. On March 13, the town of Superior, Colorado, and Boulder County joined forces in a lawsuit filed in Boulder County District Court against Jefferson County and Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport seeking both preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring the airport to compel abatement of touch-and-go maneuvers.

AOPA is aware of this development and is actively exploring multiple avenues to support efforts that will protect the airport and its operations going forward. AOPA will advise members of what they can do to get involved and take action as those opportunities present themselves.

Lillian Geil
Communications Specialist
Communications Specialist Lillian Geil is a student pilot and a graduate of Columbia University who joined AOPA in 2021.
Topics: Advocacy, State Legislation, Avgas

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