A bill designed to bring Oklahoma’s regional business airports up to speed was approved by an overwhelming majority of state Representatives today.
House Bill 2082, also known as the Airport Modernization Bill, passed the House 96-4 and will now head to the Senate for approval. If approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Brad Henry, the bill would create the Airport Modernization Program, which would provide $40 million in one-time state appropriations to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission to implement the program.
Through the program, Oklahoma’s 49 regional business airports will be eligible to apply for grants that they can use for specific airport-improvement projects, including the costs to construct or renovate terminals and hangars primarily used for general aviation. Funding may also cover the costs associated with providing adequate navigational aids that will allow aircraft to land safely, even in bad weather.
Commission Director Victor Bird expressed appreciation to Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, for serving as principal author of the bill, along with representatives James Covey, D-Custer City; Lucky Lamons, D-Tulsa; Danny Morgan, D-Prague; T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton; and Mike Thompson, R-Oklahoma City; and senators David Myers, R-Ponca City; Harry Coates, R-Seminole; Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City; and Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, for agreeing to serve as co-authors.
“This legislation is critical to the prosperity of the state. It is an investment in ourselves that will provide much more than a fair return in the decades to come,” Bird said.
Oklahoma’s aviation and aerospace industry is the state’s largest employer, providing more than 150,000 jobs across the state. According to the most recent studies, one in 10 Oklahomans derives his or her income from aviation.