Oklahoma State House and Senate Support for Aviation Takes Flight

OK caucus.jpg The Oklahoma Legislative Aviation Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Jeff Coody (R-Grandfield) and Rep. Mike Brown (D-Tahlequah) met recently at the Oklahoma State Capitol for the second time this session with aviation like-minded lawmakers. What began as a small group of pilots and aeronautics enthusiasts has seemingly caught a tail wind as the caucus has nearly doubled in size. The purpose of the Oklahoma Aviation Caucus is to inform legislators and staff about the importance of aviation to the state and national economy and transportation system while forming and vetting aerospace policy.

“With the budget being so bad, and core services being severely affected, we know that lawmakers are not really looking up, so to speak, and may not be thinking about the skies above and the aviation industry in Oklahoma,” said Coody. “That is why we put this caucus together to continue the work being done in aviation and aerospace.” New to the caucus, Senator Frank Simpson (R-Springer) was nominated by his peers and was elected as the new Co-Chair, bringing balance between the House and Senate. “With the work I am doing as the Veterans & Military Affairs Committee Chair in the Senate, I think I can bring some good ideas to the Aviation Caucus. I’d like to do an interim study on the aviation fuel tax this summer, and look at how we are funding our airport maintenance.”

The Oklahoma Aviation Caucus is a bipartisan group of State Representatives and Senators dedicated to an industry that supports Oklahoma jobs. “We are fortunate in Oklahoma to have legislators that really respect and understand the importance of the aerospace industry and air transportation in our state,” said Vic Bird, Director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. The Commission, a proponent of the aviation caucus, has a legislative mandate to foster and develop aeronautics in the state and to establish and maintain public airports. “The public airports in the Oklahoma Airport System promote commerce and economic growth to the very districts these lawmakers serve,” Bird said.

Presenters to the caucus from the aviation industry included Steve Marcy, Business Development Manager at Lockheed Martin Kelly Aviation Center, Vince Howie, Aerospace and Defense Director at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Ken Carson, Board member of the Aviation Accreditation Board International, and James Grimsley, Vice President of the Unmanned Systems Alliance of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Legislative Aviation Caucus plans to meet several times throughout the interim after the legislature adjourns at the end of May.