What does the Oregon Pilots Association do for me?
OPA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
The 2017 Legislative Session included three bills that were harmful to General Aviation, and all three were defeated through our pilots' emails and testimony at public committee hearings. In addition, pilot registration was revoked, since Search and Rescue is now fully funded through the aviation fuel tax that raised the tax on jet A, passed in the 2015 session. Pilots will no longer have to pay that fee in Oregon, although aircraft still must be registered.
By the end of 2017 session, pilots in general have impressed the legislators on both sides of the aisle in Salem by showing their concern about aviation issues through emails and pertinent and to the point testimony at hearings. When pilots show up at a hearing to testify, they are listened to seriously. Pilots present useful facts that educate committee members about the issue at hand.
Thank you to all our members who have given their time to write emails to legislators and to show up at committee hearings to testify or to show support for an issue.
Your emails and your personal testimonies make a difference! Thank you!
THE 2017 LEGISLATIVE YEAR
SB115, introduced by Senator Chuck Riley - public hearing held in the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Council, chaired by Michael Dembrow. Powerful and factual testimony was presented by the near standing-room-only roomful of pilots, soundly refuting incorrect information presented by some of the bill's supporters. The Chairman proposed bringing it back with revisions for a work session, but it was not scheduled after many pilots emailed individual committee members to explain how this bill would damage the rural economy in Oregon.
HB2109, introduced by Representative Mitch Greenlick -- public hearing held in the House Committee on Transportation Policy, chaired by Rep. Caddy McKeown. The committee had heard reports of the powerful testimony against SB115 provided by representatives of all aspects of General Aviation and were persuaded by equally powerful testimony at this hearing to table the bill permanently.
SB128; introduced by Senator Chuck Riley and Senator Gorsek. The bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation, Chaired by Senator Lee Beyer. The bill was brought at the behest of Miki Barnes of oregonaviationwatch.org to put HIO and TTD airports into local control, removing them from Port of Portland control. The intention of the oregonaviationwatch.org supporters was to close or significantly limit operations at those airports. OPA worked with Gorsek's office to make the potential for seriously negative impacts on these airports clear, and the bill never received a public hearing.
Closure of Cascade Locks (CZK). In 2015, the Port of Cascade Locks sent representatives to Oregon Department of Aviation asking to be given control of CZK airport with the intention to close it and sell the land for development. OPA sat down with the Port representatives and ODA staff and reviewed the important role of the CZK airport in respect to the rapid changes in the Gorge weather and the limitations of the Cascade Mountains that make the Gorge the only east/west route during much of Oregon's winter for aircraft incapable of flight into known icing. The Port agreed to the possibility of a land acquisition and swap with ODA that would permit the runway to be more closely aligned with the riverbank, providing a safer approach from the east and give the Port a large tract of developable land. In 2016 however, Regional Solutions, connected to the governor's office, again approached ODA about simply closing the airport.
Currently, the Port of Cascade Locks will conduct a study to determine the best use of the land the airport is located on. OPA is represented on the committee that will review the findings of the study and determine the best use of this land for all concerned.
This is a critical issue for pilots in the coming year. Cascade Locks has a long history of forced landings due to weather, and if this airport is closed to benefit the Port of Cascade Locks as development property, it may become a bellwether precedent for future closures of small municipal airports, particularly when local administrations may have ties to developmental interests.