Alabama Airport Owners Beware-SB446- Harmful to Your Future
Alabama Airport Owners BEWARE SB 446- Eminent Domain- Harmful to Your Future
Sen. Jim Preuitt (D), District 11, sponsored Senate bill SB446 , first read on Feb 9, regarding eminent domain issues. Nowhere in the bill summary would one imagine how negatively this affects airports, but it does. Apparently, a draft bill previously circulated allowed an exemption for the Birmingham Airport Authority to be written in that leaves ALL other airports out.
When it comes to Runway Protection Zones, adding/improving an Instrument Approach, new FAA design standards or even complying with state and federal safety standards, the power of eminent domain is needed by airport owners as an option. As airports expand and improve having this option is essential.
Historically the state legislature has not fostered and supported Alabama Airports and its Aviation Industry. WE are responsible for not engaging and involving our elected officials or providing them with information and solutions. Alabama still invests less in airports than any other southeastern state with a capped aviation fuel tax of $600,000. Nevertheless, General Aviation airports generate $800 million in economic impact or 4% of the annual gross state product of $15 billion. Our own economic development office rated airports #3 in importance behind education and roads, a critical factor in attracting new industry. Airports in Alabama still suffer from more than a generation of neglect from our own state.
This is an election year and our chance to DO SOMETHING positive for Alabama aviation. ANY eminent domain bill must allow for rational flexibility for legitimate public purposes such as roads, airports, easements, industrial parks and such. What is at steak is to get it right the first time to avoid a future “state-wide” constitutional amendment if the process fails to work. What form eminent domain will finally take remains to be seen, as there is talk of a substitution now being written with SB446 and there are at least seven other eminent domain bills in the process.
To ensure your airport will be exempted from this bill, contact your legislator now. SB 446 could be up for a full vote in as little as two weeks, it passed out of the Senate C&E committee Feb 14 with a 9-0 vote. Betty Meyer, Alabama Aviator Staff
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