The Colorado Aviation Business Association announced Wednesday the formation of a General Aviation Caucus in the state legislature beginning with the 2021 session that resumes on Feb. 16.
Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver, and Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland will co-chair the caucus. Both have strong personal connections to aviation, according to a news release from the association.
The General Aviation caucus will educate legislators, staff and other interested parties at the Capitol on the role and importance of general aviation, as well as highlight various components of the industry. The caucus plans to meet monthly.
“As a pilot and aviation enthusiast, I am excited about the opportunity to introduce my fellow legislators to the wonderful and vitally important world of aviation,” Valdez said. “I especially hope to be able to help stress the importance of introducing our younger generations to the opportunities aviation affords.”
McKean added that “general aviation plays a critically important role in this state’s history and in its current economy. Having been in the aviation industry for decades myself, I look forward to helping my colleagues and the general public understand more about what this industry is about and its vital contributions to our society.”
Among the concerns for the aviation association in 2021: a fuel tax. In 2020, they persuaded lawmakers to remove a provision from House Bill 20-1119 that would have added 5 cents to every gallon of aviation fuel, which would have added $3 million to aviation costs and would have been used to fund a safety program. The fuel tax is still a concern for 2021, the association's website said.
“CABA is extremely excited to see a General Aviation Caucus form in the state legislature,” said Chris Swathwood, CABA board chairman. “Increasing awareness and understanding of the general aviation industry is a key goal of CABA, and we are extremely grateful to Representatives Valdez and McKean for their leadership and support.”
The Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association, which represents agricultural applicators, also is part of the new caucus.