AB48 Alert! – Call to Action on AB48

Call to Action! AB48 (update at the end of this article)

June 5, 2010

Please take the time to read this – I know it is long, but it is important.

If you haven’t already heard, Sacramento is at it again.

Last year AB-48 was quietly passed without much attention from the general aviation community – mostly because we were not aware we needed to be concerned. AB-48 is a reinstatement of another consumer protection law which had rightfully expired.

The Bureau for Private Post Secondary Education (BPPSE), part of California’s consumer protection agency,  has been chartered with the consumer protection for the many secondary education facilities (i.e., the Trade Schools you may have seen advertised on TV for training and degrees in anything from Dental Assistant to Motorcycle Mechanic). These are typical brick and mortar institutions BPPSE is involved with.

There have been past issues with unscrupulous school operators taking money from students then vanishing into the night.  The state says that the problems increase with bad economic times – given the state of the economy it is obvious this is why AB-48 was renewed.

Why is general aviation suddenly involved?
Last year, Silver State Helicopters based out of the Sacramento area pulled a similar disappearing act, with many flight students paid in full tuition money. Why anyone would pay 100% in advance for flight training is beyond me, and the scope of this document.

Nonetheless, two of our state’s legislators decided that while others were reviving AB-48, it would be a good idea to add flight schools, and by default, flight instructors to the bill. Of course experience would suggest that the legislators in our state have no idea of what general aviation is, or the benefit to the state (we all own part of this lack of education issue) and didn’t bother to seek expert or stakeholder opinions.

What”s the Issue?
The issue is the outrageous fees associated with this bill, and the onerous bureaucratic processes that no flight school or independent instructor can afford, or should have to deal with (think federal tax forms and you get the idea). Here is the fee schedule. Read it carefully, and then ask yourself if you believe your local flight school or flight instructor can afford these disgraceful fees.

– Application Fee              – $5,000 – Each additional location                – $3,000

– Annual Fee per location – $1,000 – Five (5) Year Renewal Fee              – $3,500

– In addition to the fees listed above, all facilities must also pay an annual fee equal to” three-    quarters of 1 percent of the institution’s annual revenues derived from students in California, but not exceeding a total of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) annually.”

What is Being Done
AOPA has been watching this develop and is working in Sacramento. The California Pilots Association has already written a letter which can be viewed here. Others are involved too. Corl Leach, the President of the Lincoln Regional Aviation Association (a CALPILOTS Chapter) called this matter to our attention, and has done an excellent job summarizing what has happened with the bill on LRAA’s web site. Max Trescott, a nationally well known flight instructor has also provided an excellent overview you can read on his blog. The National Air Transport Association (NATA) is involved too.

What Should You Do?
You might ask yourself “why should I be concerned – I don’t own a flight school, nor am I an instructor”.  That’s a fair question. Also ask yourself what you will do when you are unable to find convenient flight schools to add that rating you have been wanting, or what you will do when you need your Flight Review and can’t find a Flight Instructor to provide one?

Plan of Action
The Bureau for Private Post Secondary Education (BPPSE) meets on Monday June 7, 2010. It is important to note that this bill is already passed, so it will require an amendment to change it. Nonetheless, we all need to get involved. Here is what you should do. (PLEASE BE UNEMOTIONAL AND POLITE)

  1. Before or by Monday June 7th – Call or email the contact at BPPSE below and advise her that you are a pilot (or are pro-aviation) and are outraged by the fees associated with this bill. And that flight schools and flight instructors cannot afford the fees and should not be required to pay them.
    Contact: Joanne Wenzel Staff Services Manager III
    Bureau of Postsecondary Education 
    1625 N. Market Blvd., Suite S 202 
    Sacramento, California 95834 
    Phone: (916) 574-7784 
    Fax: (916) 574-8652 
    Email: Joanne_Wenzel@dca.ca.gov
  1. Contact your legislator and give him/her the same message – AB-48 should not be applied to flight schools and flight instructors because they cannot afford the fees and should not be required to pay them (Note: you will most likely talk to an aid which is fine).
    To get contact information for your California state assembly and senate representatives, go to http://www.assembly.ca.gov/defaulttext.asp and click on “Find My District” in the left column.
  2. Write a letter your legislator or use the (very limited) email ability to contact your legislator as a follow up to your phone call. Personal letters are infinitely better than form letters.
  3. Write the Governor
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    State Capitol Building
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: 916-445-2841
    Fax: 916-558-3160
    Email: fill in form at http://gov.ca.gov/interact#email

Be advised that we are going to have to fight to get the exemption reinstated for flight schools and flight instructors. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. The state bureaucracies are (rightfully) worried about funding to maintain their jobs.
  2. The legislature’s ratings are at all time lows, and it wants to appear to be doing something for the citizens.

It is past time that aviation stood up for itself and its rights. In order to be successful, you need to be involved. It’s up to you – please do your part and join us in this fight.

Ed Rosiak – President
California Pilots Association

Editor’s Note: Even if you did not make the June 7th meeting please provide your feedback anyway. They need to know that the pilots and pro-aviation people in this state are not happy with this ill-advise and uninformed situation.

Read the reaction of Ahart Aviation Services a flight training facility in Livermore, CA. here.

SAFE Opposes California Bill to Regulate FBOs & Instructors

Proposed Regulation of FBOs & Instructors would “Kill Aviation in California”

The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) has submitted a letter to various officials in the State of California in opposition to Assembly Bill 48 (AB 48). The bill would impose burdensome and overly costly regulations on FBOs and independent flight instructors, treating them the same as post-secondary institutions. Not only has SAFE taken a stand on the issue, but many individual SAFE members in California have also mobilized in an effort to stop a bill that many believe will cause serious damage to California’s flight training industry. The statement prepared by SAFE reads:

UPDATE:June 12, 2010

The June 7th meeting came and went. The BPPSE told the rather large crowd of angry flight school owners and instructors that the law was already passed, and that they were tasked with implementation. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone – they are a “Bureau” (make that bureaucracy). The Chief of Staff of Assemblyman Roger Niello responded to the General Aviation News (GAN) story (posted on this site). He states that the bill was available for review for several months, and took exception with my term of “stealth bill”. I will concede that all bills are available for review online, and one could spend his or her life trying to figure out what was and was not important – however, the fact is that they NEVER sought aviation expertise when considering this bill is truly puzzling and a huge error.

The question remains. Why didn’t they seek someone with aviation experience before including flight schools/instructors to AB48? A more important question is, what is the legislature going to do to fix this error? Or, will they sit idly by and watch flight schools all over the state close their doors one by one?