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GA raises advocacy profile in Rhode IslandGA raises advocacy profile in Rhode Island

General aviation advocates have been raising their profile in Rhode Island with a first-of-its-kind advocacy event and appearances to provide key testimony in a legislative hearing on a proposed jet fuel tax.

AOPA helped organize and participated in the first Rhode Island Advocacy Day event at the state Capitol on April 26, where Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins was joined by members of the Rhode Island Pilots Association and the Rhode Island GA Business Owners Association in highlighting the economic and transportation-system contributions of the state’s GA airports.

“According to a 2016 economic impact report, the five GA airports combined to produce an economic output of $212 million, including directly and indirectly supporting 1,500 jobs,” Collins said. He added that jet fuel is sold at four of the airports, a well as at Theodore Francis Green State Airport, Rhode Island’s primary commercial service airport in Providence.

The advocacy groups also represent GA’s interests before the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC), the public entity that oversees the six Rhode Island state airports.

In a legislative hearing, Collins was joined by AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers Graeme Smith, from Newport State Airport, and Bill Weedon, from Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown, in opposing a bill to establish a 7-percent excise tax on jet fuel.

“General aviation believes in paying its fair share to support airports, but the bill’s supporters have not justified creating a new tax,” Collins said. “Rhode Island’s current fuel prices are already significantly higher than the regional average, making it difficult for its airports to compete with those across the state line.”

He told the committee that AOPA supports legislation that would increase the size of RIAC’s governing board from seven to nine members, with one of the two new members from the active pilot community and the other from the business aviation community.

Both bills were tabled by the Senate Finance Committee.

AOPA is dedicated to working at the state and local levels with local pilot groups to make sure GA’s voice is heard when aviation policy is on policymakers’ agenda, and those efforts were recognized in the May edition of the The Plane Paper, the Rhode Island Pilots Association’s monthly newsletter.

Writing in his From the President column, RIPA President Jim Burns noted “the significant support and counsel” AOPA has provided the group, adding, “They have been more than counsel—Sean Collins their Eastern Regional Manager has been attending events with us. Those AOPA membership dues have never seemed better value than now!”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, State Legislation, Taxes

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