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Bill modernizing regional airports passes Senate

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A bill to help modernize the state's regional airports passed unanimously in the state Senate on Monday.

With a vote of 48 to zero, the state Senate approved HB 2784, the Regional Business Airport Modernization Act. Authored by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, and Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, HB 2784 authorizes the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission to construct or renovate terminals and hangars used for general aviation, including pavement work, in the 49 regional airports across the state.

"I am thrilled that House Bill 2784 has received so much support from both the House and Senate," said Jackson in a statement. "Many of our regional airports are in desperate need for new terminals and hangars, many of which are extremely old and don't adequately meet the needs of the business customer."

The funding for the airport renovations will come in the form of state grants from the commission.

"Our regional airports have such a significant economic impact on our communities and state," Gumm said. "The businesses that create jobs in those communities use these airports to transact commerce across the state and nation, and even the world."

Many businesses across the state that use a regional airport have cited convenient access to the airport as a major reason why they located or expanded their business in those communities, said Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

Bird noted that Oklahoma has 114 public airports, which puts the state in fourth place in the nation, per capita. Almost 92 percent of Oklahoma's population is within 25 miles of a jet-capable runway, he said.

HB 2784 will next go to a conference where legislative leaders from both chambers will vote on a final bill.

Oklahoma's aviation and aerospace industry yields an annual $12.5 billion industrial output, according to the commission.  

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