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Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, March 13, 2000

Legislature 2000

Tour flights bill
passes Senate,
heads to House

HILO -- A logjam in Congress has been broken, freeing legislation that will allow national parks some control of tour flights over their territory, Sen. Daniel Akaka announced.

The Senate on Wednesday approved an Air Transportation Improvement Act which includes a provision for "air tour management plans" at parks, including Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala.

The management plans would be put together by the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Park Service and affected parties such as air tour operators and environmentalists.

The concept is modeled on a voluntary flying and noise reduction agreement already observed by air tour operators at Haleakala.

Akaka announced in October that the Senate had voted for the measure. Since then it had been stuck in a conference committee, along with a similar bill from the House of Representatives, while Congress wrestled with larger questions of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA bill, with the provisions for air tour management, was recently released from the committee, said Akaka spokesman Paul Cardus.

Since the conference committee version is one all sides have agreed on, the House is expected to pass it in addition to the Senate, and the president is expected to sign it, he said.

The original bill was sponsored by Akaka and recent Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, whose home state of Arizona was also affected because of air tours in Grand Canyon National Park.

While recognizing environmental needs, a statement from Akaka added, "I have repeatedly underscored that air tour operators have a legitimate role in our national park system and offer an important source of income for local economies, notably tourism-dependent areas such as Hawaii."

CALL FOR UNITY: Republican state Rep. Barbara Marumoto is calling for the GOP in Hawaii to rally around Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

After Sen. John McCain announced that he was withdrawing from the race, Marumoto asked for McCain supporters to unite behind Bush.

"Hawaii's McCain for President chair, James Kuroiwa, called me to offer his congratulations, and we are discussing ways we can build a coalition of support," said Marumoto, Bush for President chairwoman in Hawaii.

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