MPA LEGISLATION REPORT
July 2001

GREETINGS! Here are some National Legislation Issues. The House Appropriations Committee approved last Wednesday the annual funding bill for the Department of Transportation for the 2002 fiscal year that begins on October 1st. The Bill that recommends $13.3 billion for the FAA includes input by AOPA, such as a provision to retain the language prohibiting the funding of work on unauthorized user fees. Programs key to General Aviation that are currently set to receive funding include: OASIS ($33.9 million), the program designed to modernize flight service stations; Safe Flight 21 ($35 million), a program that will evaluate several GPS-based solutions to help reduce controlled flight into terrain accidents, runway incursions, and midair collisions; Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS, $76 million), and the Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS, $42.45 million), which enhance the accuracy of current GPS signals; and Notams ($1million). The full House is expected to consider the bill next week. To learn more about the FAA funding process, see http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/la-budget.html

Now, Here are some more National Legislation Issues. The FAA released last Wednesday a report that proves what AOPA has been saying for some time, "that the majority of runway incursions are minor, particularly those involving general aviation aircraft." The study, which looked at the years 1997 through 2000, also showed that the number of runway incursions among aircraft operations is proportional to the activity levels-GA represents 60 percent of the incursions and nearly 60 percent of all aircraft operations. For the first time, the FAA report categorized the severity of runway incursions, something that AOPA has been calling for in order to develop appropriate responses to the problem. AOPA President Phil Boyer will testify before Congress, saying that "education, rather than expensive technology is the best means to prevent runway incursions for GA." AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation have been leaders in educating GA pilots on preventing incursions. Airport taxi diagrams are available free to all pilots on AOPA Online http://www.aopa.org/asf/taxi/ and ASF recently pioneered an innovative online runway safety program http://www.aopa.org/asf/runway_safety

Now here's an Update on our Local Missouri Airport Issues. Here's a Summary of the House Committee Version of HB 436. Committee Action: voted "do pass" by the Committee on Local Government and Related Matters by a vote of 15 to 2. This bill requires the Highways and Transportation Commission to establish an airspace review and permit process to regulate structures that may be erected within navigable airspace and to ensure that the structures will not interfere with air navigation.

The Commission must investigate all permit applications, taking into consideration the safety and welfare of persons and property in the air and on the ground. The Commission may approve application for temporary structures if it is evident that the proposed temporary structure will not adversely affect safety or air navigation. Permits may be withheld upon any type of Federal Aviation Administration investigation.

The bill also contains language concerning location requirements, when a permit is required, time required for making application for a permit, permit exceptions, identification requirements to be noted on permits, notification of denial of a permit, the appeal process upon denial, and rule making authority. FISCAL NOTE: Estimated Net Cost to General Revenue Fund of $66.563 in FY 2002, $72.024 in FY 2003, and $73,828 in FY 2004.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the bill is only for small rural airports. Property around airports is being developed; and in many cases, the structures are not safe for the air traffic. Many times towers are built which are hazards to air traffic. The FAA does only a safety study, which is often not adequate. Twenty-five other states have similar laws regulating structures around airports.
Testifying for the bill were Representative Merideth; Department of Transportation; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; and Columbia Regional Airport.

OPPONENTS: Those who oppose the bill say that wireless companies and others invest large amounts of money in towers and take safety seriously. Many of these towers can only be built in limited areas if they are to work. The FAA does a safety study on hazards, and companies cannot operate without a letter from the FAA. Other states don't have laws that are as strict as this proposed legislation. The builders of towers try to avoid airports. Any existing tower would need Department of Transportation approval before doing repair or maintenance.
Testifying against the bill were Missouri Telecommunications Association; Sprint; and Missouri Small Telephone Company Group.

This will give us all the information to help us get the Missouri Airport Protection Act passed during the next Legislation. Let's continue to work together, so we can make a difference for Missouri Aviation.

Until Next Time!

Larry G. Harmon
Legislation Chairman
E-mail address: MPALHARMON@aol.com

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