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New Aviation Caucus Formed in Washington State Legislature

Dec. 2, 2013

General aviation (GA) advocates in the Northwest are applauding the formation of the region’s first state aviation caucus, which was formally launched in the Washington legislature on Nov. 22 by state Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside).

“Our goals will include the promotion of general aviation in Washington and support for smaller airports in the state,” Honeyford said of the new Washington State Legislative Aviation Caucus. “I also would like to try to make sure that the tax on avgas, which currently helps fund all of transportation, not necessarily general aviation – goes back to enhance general aviation.”

Honeyford had attended a Seattle town hall meeting in late September, which was jointly hosted by NBAA and the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association (PNBAA). There, he indicated his support for GA, and his interest in raising awareness about general aviation in the state legislature.

“NBAA and all aviation interests in Washington are grateful for Sen. Honeyford’s leadership in forming the Washington State Legislative Aviation Caucus,” said Kristi Ivey, NBAA’s Northwest regional representative. “We look forward to supporting Sen. Honeyford and the other members of the caucus in their efforts to advocate for aviation and airports in Washington.”

Ivey noted that GA in Washington annually contributes $3.8 billion in economic impact to the state, and supports more than 7,600 jobs.

Nine Washington state legislators attended the first meeting of the caucus, and Honeyford expects that number to grow in the months ahead. He and Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Seattle) were appointed as co-chairs of the caucus.

In addition to discussing the issues facing some of Washington’s smaller airports – “many of them are struggling,” said Honeyford – other topics raised at the first meeting of the caucus included development of a list of manufacturers that may be looking to expand or relocate.

“We’d like to attract more aviation businesses to Washington,” said Honeyford. To encourage that, the caucus members discussed the possibility of expanding recent aerospace legislation to include tax incentives for small airplane and rotary-wing manufacturers.

The newly formed caucus has already set two dates for meetings during the current legislative session, and Honeyford hopes to have three to five meetings during longer legislative sessions. Dave Lehman, secretary of the PNBAA, said that his group would help recruit additional caucus members and would support the group any way it could.

The formation of the caucus is the most recent example of increasing aviation advocacy efforts at the state legislative level. Similar caucuses have been established recently in Texas and New York, and exist in various other states across the country.