But The Effort Will Be Expensive, And A Win Is Not A Sure
On Monday June 7th, about 50 concerned flight school owners
and flight instructors traveled to Sacramento, CA for the Bureau
for Private Post-secondary and Vocational Education (BPPE) hearing,
and to plead their case for exemption from (AB) 48. While the
flight school owners and instructors presented a united front to
fight what could be an industry crippling or killing piece of
legislation, they were not encouraged by the outcome.
The law would require small flight schools and individual flight
instructors to register, pay hefty fees, and comply with
restrictive regulations to continue to offer flight instruction in
the state of California. It treats individual flight instructors
the same as other post-secondary educational organizations, and the
conventional wisdom is that it will be devastating to the flight
instruction industry in the state.
BPPE's opening comment was that they did not write the bill. It was
written and passed by the State legislature and signed into law by
the Governor. Their role is to administer and enforce the law.
Bureau representatives told the flight instructors that their
"concerns and recommendation would be taken under advisement and
they would respond to each and every issue raised." But barring a
substantial shift, or an exemption from the bureaucracy, on August
1st anyone who has not submitted application and continues to do
flight training in the State of California is out of compliance and
subject to a $50,000 fine.
The California legislature as well as the BPPE have continued to
hold that flight instruction is not exempt from the law, and Jim
Brannan, President of Mazzei Flying Service in Fresno, CA and a
board member of SAFE, said in a letter to California flight school
owners that the national lobbying organizations may not be
effective in convincing the California legislature to exempt flight
schools. "Their area of expertise is Washington politics and
federal rule making. They are doing their best to help us but they
are playing catch up," he wrote. "The horse is already out of the
barn. This is new territory for them. They are most effective in
the proposed rule making process not in changing law."
Brennan urges a continued letter-writing campaign on the part of
California flight instructors and schools, which he says have been
successful in making the CA legislature aware of the situation. He
says NATA has been working to find a Sacramento lobbyist to
represent the group's interests and help navigate the legislative
process. The suggested strategy is to push for a flight training
exemption to be added as an urgency clause to an existing bill and
get it to the floor for a vote before the end of August. Brennan
says Assemblyman Portantino, the author of (AB) 48, has agreed to
seek an urgency clause in (AB) 1889 which is a clean-up bill for
(AB) 48, but that the Governor has said he will veto the bill as it
now stands, based on a few line items for increased spending in the
bill which he has said he will not approve.
Brenan said that along with that effort, the lobbyist they hope
to retain is proposing a separate single line item urgency bill
with an exemption for flight training if needed. But a lobbying
effort requires money for the lobbyist. Brennan says NATA and some
of the other groups will be lending financial help, but a
California problem needs California support.
Brennan says NATA will contract with the lobbyist on behalf of
California flight instructors, and escrow payments to be
disbursed by them as required. He is asking California flight
schools and instructors to contribute to the effort. He says the
lobbying effort will cost approximately $35,000, and that does not
guarantee success. But doing nothing, he says "will have
catastrophic consequences to our industry."