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Sat, Mar 16, 2013

Control Of Charlotte Douglas Airport Focus Of State Senate Bill

Would Place The Airport Under A Newly-Created Regional Airport Authority

Control of the nations' eighth-busiest airport is the focus of a bill making its way through the North Carolina legislature. The state Senate voted this week along party lines to transfer control of Charlotte Douglas airport away from the city of Charlotte to a newly-created regional airport authority. A second senate vote is expected next week before the bill could move to the state House of Representatives.

USA Today reports that state senator Robert Rucho, a Republican representing the Mecklenburg area and an outspoken advocate of the change, said the airport is an "important statewide asset" that is expected to create thousands of jobs and is an important part of the state's nearly-complete intermodal freight distribution network. He said it is a "key component to the economic well-being of the entire state."

But those opposed to the move say there are broader issues at stake, such as how cities leverage bond money to build municipal services. Also in question are some $800 million in airport bonds currently held by investors.

The Republicans in the legislature decided to move forward with the bill before a report from state Treasurer Janet Cowell that could answer some of those questions has been completed.

The legislature is treating the bill as a local issue, so Governor Pat McCory would not have an opportunity to either sign or veto the measure if it makes it all the way through the legislative process. McCory, a former Mayor of Charlotte, has not said he actively opposes the idea, but has urged fellow Republicans to take a step back and more closely study the impact of the measure.

(Screenshot from NASA’s globe software World Wind using a public domain layer, such as Blue Marble, MODIS, Landsat, SRTM, USGS or GLOBE)

FMI: www.ncleg.net

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