U.S. Representative Austin Scott joined Valdosta Chamber leaders on Wednesday, April 17th for a roundtable discussion on policy issues ranging from transportation to military affairs. Among those participating were chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, Lee McArthur, Chamber president, Myrna Ballard, chairman of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Council, John P. Page and chairman of the Chamber’s Healthcare Policy Committee, Steven Heddon.
One of the key issues discussed was the Chamber’s opposition to the FAA’s so-called “1,500-hour rule.” The rule requires new pilots to receive an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate attesting that they have 1,500 hours of cockpit training. This mostly impacts regional (i.e. rural) trunk carriers where 1,500 hour pilots are difficult to find and recruit, thus creating a pilot shortage and curtailing regional air service.
Another topic discussed at the meeting pertained to issues surrounding the measurements of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, which determines the possibility of a military base closing. Led by Nick Lacey, chairman of the Military Affairs Policy Committee on the Chamber’s Government Affairs Council, issues of rural broadband and the quality of education at local school systems were agenda items that were concerning. While these two subjects are certainly important from a BRAC standpoint, they are also significant when considering economic development, labor, education and workforce development and healthcare.
The Congressman was happy to listen to the concerns of the business community. “Congressman Scott is very accessible to his constituents,” said Ballard. “He takes the time to listen to the concerns of the business community. These face-to-face discussions with our elected officials are the best way to advocate for our members.”