FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 09/20/2014
ANCHORAGE — Mark Begich received the support of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) for his work to promote general aviation and pilots rights. Mark Begich co-founded the Senate General Aviation caucus with Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to bring senators together on a bipartisan basis to discuss aviation issues impacting Alaska and the rest of country.
“I meet with Alaskans in villages, hubs and towns across the state and understand air travel is often the only method to reach many Alaska communities. I have taken on the Obama Administration many times to ensure the rights and independence of Alaska pilots are not infringed upon. I work to find bipartisan solutions to deliver results for Alaska’s aviation community and pilots. I’m honored to have the support of AOPA,” said Senator Mark Begich.
AOPA had this to say about Mark Begich:
“No state is more dependent on general aviation (GA) than Alaska, and Sen. Mark Begich has made protecting and promoting GA a priority during his first term in office. He helped launch and co-chairs the Senate General Aviation Caucus. This year, Begich has been at the helm of two important pieces of legislation affecting pilots. He was one of the four lead co-sponsors on a bill to stop the FAA from requiring sleep apnea testing for thousands of pilots and was an early co-sponsor of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act designed to allow thousands of pilots to fly without requiring a third class medical certificate. He sent a letter to the FAA demanding that the agency stop dragging their feet on third class medical reform, and he has consistently opposed user fees. Begich also acted as the lead Democratic co-sponsor for the Pilot’s Bill of Rights that passed in 2012 and sits at the intersection of several power committees affecting AOPA’s advocacy efforts, including the Senate aviation subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; the Senate Appropriations Committee; and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.”
Begich has run a TV ad about his support for Alaska’s pilots and general aviation.
Several examples of Mark Begich delivering for Alaska’s GA community:
Babbitt Announced $59 Million In Airport Improvement Grants For Sitka, Chefornak, Soldotna & Anchorage. Reported the Anchorage Daily News in August 2010, “Babbitt announced about $59 million in airport improvement grants, including $30 million to expand the runway safety area for Sitka, and $20.5 million to continue construction of a replacement airport for Chefornak, a village southwest of Bethel. Other grants are $2.2 million to add to the apron space at Soldotna Municipal Airport and $500,000 for a noise study at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.” [Anchorage Daily News, 8/25/10]
IRS Says State Air Carriers Can Apply for Excise Tax Refunds. Reported the Alaska Journal of Commerce in March 2014, “In a March 14 letter to Sen. Mark Begich, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen offered refunds to Alaska air carriers that improperly applied disputed excise taxes meant for regular passenger service. Audits of six air carriers since 2010 for excise tax application have led to “tax bills” ranging from several hundred thousand dollars to nearly $2 million per business, according to Alaska Air Carriers Association Executive Director Joy Journeay. Begich called the concession a “great win for Alaska” and a “huge step in the right direction” in a March 17 interview with the Journal. [Alaska Journal of Commerce, 3/20/14]
FAA Reauthorization Included No New User Fees For General Aviation Aircraft. Reported the Alaska Dispatch in February 2012, “Begich, speaking on the floor of the Senate prior to the vote, pointed out — twice — that the reauthorization includes no new user fees for general aviation aircraft. The subject of a proposed $100 “user fee” per flight for small commercial aircraft has been a hot topic in the aviation community, with Murkowski writing a letter to President Obama in November expressing her concern that the fee would unfairly affect small aviation business owners.” [Alaska Dispatch, 2/6/12]
FAA Reauthorization Exempted Some Alaska Air Carriers From Regulations On Shipping Compressed Oxygen Tanks. Reported the Alaska Dispatch in February 2012, “The bill also allows some Alaska air carriers to bypass the usual regulations that surround shipping tanks filled with compressed oxygen. Many small planes traveling in rural Alaska don’t have the space for the special packaging normally required to ship compressed oxygen by air.” [Alaska Dispatch, 2/6/12]
Begich Worked With Young To Add Exemption For Alaska Carriers To Reauthorization In 2011. Reported the Alaska Journal of Commerce in February 2011, “Young provided an amendment in the House version providing the exemption “in circumstances in which transportation of the cylinders by ground or vessel is unavailable and transportation by aircraft is the only practical means for transporting the cylinders to their destination.” Begich said the Senate version contains language also providing an exemption in Alaska. In working with Young, Begich said when the bill goes to conference he believes he will ‘get the language that will allow the flexibility in rural Alaska so they can transport the oxygen tanks in a reasonable and rational way rather than what they have to go through now.’ Begich said his office put pressure on the FAA to provide waivers for Alaska carriers last year, and when they didn’t, he said he would provide legislation if they would not provide the regulation. ‘The FAA still doesn’t like both our version and Don Young’s version, but they’re going to be living with one of them,’ Begich said.” [Alaska Journal of Commerce, 2/25/11]
Begich Called On EPA To Extend Public Comment Period On Proposed Rule To Require Small Airplane Owners To Switch To Unleaded Gasoline, Potentially Grounding 10,000 Piston-Based Alaska Aircraft. Reported Inside Energy with Federal Lands in July 2010, “Alaska Senator Mark Begich asked the Environmental Protection Agency last week to hold off on plans that would likely force small-airplane owners to switch to unleaded gasoline. Most of the more than 10,000 planes used in Alaska are piston-based and would be unable to run on unleaded, decimating a way of life, Begich said in a letter Thursday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Begich asked Jackson to extend the public comment period for the proposed rule-making until October 31, to allow more time for Alaskan aviators to comment before a rule is drafted.” [Inside Energy with Federal Lands, 7/12/10]
Begich: “The Vast Majority Of Commercial Aircraft In Alaska Are Smaller Piston-Driven Aircraft, Which Use Avgas.” Reported Inside Energy with Federal Lands in July 2010, “‘When Alaskans in a remote village require medical treatment at a hospital, most frequently they travel to the larger community via piston-engine aircraft,’ Begich said. ‘The EPA’s regulatory announcement for the proposed rulemaking on [aviation gasoline] states, ‘lead is not used in jet fuel, the fuel utilized by most commercial aircraft.’ While this statement may hold true for the Lower-48 states, the vast majority of commercial aircraft in Alaska are smaller piston-driven aircraft, which use avgas.’” [Inside Energy with Federal Lands, 7/12/10]
Begich Pressed FAA Nominee Huerta To Commit To Flexibility On Phasing In Any Avgas Restrictions. According to a June 2012 press release from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, “Huerta took a stronger stance when questioned by Begich on avgas. The Alaska senator and General Aviation Caucus Co-Chair noted the critical importance of the issue in his state, which relies heavily on aviation to meet basic transportation needs. The FAA completely understands the importance of having reasonable alternatives before any effort is made to phase out avgas, Huerta said. I’m very committed to working with EPA so as to ensure that doesn’t happen. Begich pressed Huerta to make sure his definition of reasonable included economical, and Huerta said it certainly does.” [Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association press release, 6/21/12]
Begich Joined With Alaska Delegation in Calling On Federal TSA To Drop Proposal To Require Private Aircraft To Follow Airline-Type Rules. Reported the Alaska Journal of Commerce in July 2009, “Alaska’s congressional delegation say they are pushing the federal Transportation Security Administration to back off on a proposal that would require privately owned aircraft to follow airline-type rules, regulations that many in the aviation industry say would stymie general aviation in Alaska. . . . ‘General aviation is essential to transportation in our state,’ said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. ‘We are not opposed to security improvements. However, any new regulations should not be overly burdensome to Alaska’s general aviation community. While I understand the intentions behind the program, the LASP will create rules that don’t make sense for aviation in Alaska.’” [Alaska Journal of Commerce, 7/17/09]
Begich Pledged To Pursue Legislative Fix If Final Rule From TSA Was Overly Burdensome On General Aviation. Reported the Alaska Journal of Commerce in July 2009, “The Alaska delegation said they are keeping a watchful eye on TSA and any new rules that could affect aviation in Alaska. ‘If the final rule is overly burdensome on general aviation and Alaska businesses, I will seek legislative changes to protect Alaskan aviators in the TSA authorization bill that we should be taking up before the end of the year,’ said Begich. ‘This legislation (HR2200) recently passed the House and has been referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, of which I am a member.’” [Alaska Journal of Commerce, 7/17/09]