October 2007

GREETINGS! First, Here's an update from Washington, D.C. A bill that would keep the nation's air traffic control system operating until the end of the year while lawmakers finish a four-year Federal Aviation Administration authorization won House passage last Monday September 24, 2007.

The FAA's authority to collect the excise and ticket taxes that support much of its budget is set to expire when the current authorization (PL 108-176) ends September 30, 2007. The House passed a three-month extension of that authority (HR 3540) by voice vote.

The Senate could either take up the House-passed bill that Congress must clear by the end of the week to avoid a government shutdown.

John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.VA, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Aviation Subcommittee, said he prefers the latter approach.

The short-term extension also would renew the FAA's authority to distribute some $919 million in airport improvement grants and reauthorize war risk insurance for airlines, which indemnifies them against third-party liability in the case of a terrorist attack.

Secondly, Last week the House passed its long-term bill (HR 2881), and the Senate Finance Committee completed the revenue section of its bill (S 1300), which the Commerce panel had approved earlier. The revenue provisions will be added to the broader Senate Bill on the floor.

But no date for Senate floor action has been set, and reconciling differences between the two chambers' bills will not be easy, particularly those regarding proposed new fees for various sectors of the aviation industry intended to help pay for improvements to the air traffic control system.

The Senate bill tends to favor the airline industry by requiring General Aviation, particularly high-end business jets, to pay more than current law requires for use of the air traffic control system. General Aviation groups prefer the House Bill, which would raise some taxes on general aviation but would not alter the basic fee structure.

The Bush Administration has threatened to veto the House Bill, saying it would not adequately tie FAA revenue to the costs that users impose on the air traffic control system. The administration wants to replace the current system of fuel and ticket taxes with new usage fees, such as per-flight charges based on distance traveled.

Thirdly, (HR 2881) would provide nearly $68 billion to the FAA over the next four years. Some $13 billion would be available to maintain and improve FAA facilities and equipment, including $5 billion for the start of the NextGen air traffic control modernization expenses.

Another $15.8 billion would be put into the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), and more than $37 billion for FAA salaries and other operational expenses.

Note: Here's your web site address for Texas Legislation:
Look for Transportation-Aviation, to search all Aviation Bills.

Note: Here's your web site address for Illinois Legislation:
Look for Transportation-Aviation, to search all Aviation Bills.

Now, In Conclusion, Remember, we as USPA, MPA, EAA, AOPA, or any other State Pilot Associations of which you may be a member, all have a powerful voice, be it here in Missouri, Indiana, Texas, or whatever state you may represent. Every group of pilots and taxpayers carries a strong voice to Washington, D.C., and on the State and Local Level.

So Let's not forget to exercise our privileges, and continue to make a "Difference for General Aviation."


Larry G. Harmon
Legislation Chairman
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