Federal Legislative Priorities 2024
DBQ encourages increasing spending levels through the appropriation process for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), Essential Air Service, Contract Tower Program, and other programs that provide for the safe operation, development, and maintenance of facilities at airports around the country.
- DBQ Requests Congress take immediate action to address the aviation workforce shortage through multiple programs and initiatives. Aviation workforce shortages are creating a strain felt across the industry and is being felt most by the smaller communities who are struggling to maintain their basic service, Essential Air Service, or have lost commercial air service altogether like DBQ.
- Increase the mandatory retirement age for pilots from 65 to 67 to provide some immediate, near-term relief to the pilot shortage issue.
- Allow scheduled Part 135 operation of small regional jet aircraft to serve smaller markets.
- In addition to accredited college and universities, change tax law to allow use of 529 plans to fund technical training, like flight training and aircraft maintenance technician programs, that lead to certification required for a career. These training programs provided the fastest path from school to workforce for careers that don’t require a higher education degree.
- Increase funding for the FAA’s Aviation Workforce grant program.
- DBQ Requests Congress act to complete FAA reauthorization to ensure critical infrastructure funding continues, and can further leverage BIL funding provided through FY2026 and beyond.
- Provide a minimum of $4 billion annually for the Airport Improvement Program
- Modernize airport entitlements by providing increased funding levels to airports with more activity ($1.3 million for primary commercial service airports, $500,000 for commercial-service non-primary airports, $500,000 for regional airports, $250,000 for local airports, $150,000 for basic airports, and $0 for unclassified airports, based on NPIAS Airport Categorization.) The proposed formula change is contingent upon AIP funding of at least $4 billion annually.
- Eliminate the federal cap on local PFCs. Extend PFC eligibility to include any lawful capital cost of the airport.
- Monies collected and deposited in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund must continue to be protected from Sequestration or FAA operating uses.
- DBQ Requests Modernize Essential Air Service to meet today’s evolving small community and industry needs.
- DBQ Requests Congress to pass liability legislation that holds airports harmless for present and past use of PFOS and PFAS in Aqueous Film Forming Foam mandated by the FAA.
- Provide funding for the proper clean up and disposal of AFFF products manufactured with PFAS, and the transition from current to an alternative product approved by the FAA.
- DBQ Requests Congress direct the FAA to clarify future noise policy/standards and seek feedback from airports and their stakeholders before implementing any changes per the recently conducted Neighborhood Environmental Survey that could affect airport operations.
- DBQ supports current TSA screening of airport employees. DBQ requests Congress to require TSA remain responsible for screening of airport employees instead of the new requirement for Airport’s to conduct employee screening.
State Legislative Priorities
Grow Iowa’s Aviation Workforce
The lack of persons entering the aviation workforce in Iowa remains a cause for great concern. There continues to be a great need for aircraft mechanics, aircraft technicians, pilots, flight crew, ground crew, and airport managers. DBQ supports the continued inclusion of these careers as eligible for Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant program (Kibbie Grants) monies.
Request: Continue the $5 million dollar appropriation for the Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant program and again include aviation careers as eligible areas of study for program monies.
Airport Vertical Infrastructure Funding
Vertical infrastructure improvements at our commercial airports and general aviation airports remains high. DBQ is urging lawmakers to direct aircraft use and lease tax to the State Aviation Fund.
Request: Beginning with fiscal year 2025 direct all aircraft use taxes and lease sales taxes be deposited in the State Aviation Fund. 40% be used for vertical infrastructure projects at general aviation airports and 60% be used for vertical infrastructure projects at the state’s commercial service airports, with commercial service airport funding being distributed using the current disbursement criteria.
Update Airport Closure Requirements
Currently, administrative rules allow a city, county, or aviation authority to avoid repayment of recently awarded state aviation grants (for improvements such as runway construction or rehabilitation) if the airport is permanently closed. There is a very limited amount of state funds available for airport improvements. If an airport accepts these funds and then subsequently chooses to close a short time after expending those monies, those dollars should be repaid.
Request: DBQ supports an update of state policy regarding airport closures and the repayment of state airport improvement grants such as the following: Within 30 days of permanently closing an airport, the airport sponsor shall request from the department a 20-year grant summary for that airport. Within 30 days of receiving the request the department shall provide the sponsor with the 20-year review for each aviation grant issued by the department. The sponsor may request forgiveness of all or a portion of the repayment obligation. The request must include a plan detailing the alternative future use of the airport facility. The decision to forgive all or a portion of the repayment obligation shall be made by the transportation commission. Repayments will be redeposited into the aviation fund from which the grant originated.
Federally Mandated Firefighting Foams and Airports
For decades the federal government has mandated the use of aviation firefighting foam that contained perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that include Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA).
In May of 2023 the Federal Aviation Administration released a document entitled “Aircraft Firefighting Foam Transition Plan” which outlines the process for replacing the current aircraft rescue and firefighting foam with a new, non-PFAS/PFOS based foam. The plan also highlights the costs that airports will incur as equipment, such as firefighting vehicles, firefighting equipment and airport fire suppression systems, will require decontamination or replacement.
Request: DBQ supports a nationwide federal PFAS/PFOS transition plan. The state’s airports also request the costs associated with the decontamination and/or replacement of airport rescue and firefighting vehicles, equipment, and fire suppression systems be eligible for State Aviation Fund assistance.