Senate adopts Kowall resolution urging FAA to reconsider overly restrictive proposal

LANSING—The state Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reconsider a proposed policy that would prohibit offset loading of sea-land containers by the U.S. air cargo industry, said sponsor Sen. Mike Kowall.

In offset loading, sea-land containers are loaded along the sides of aircraft, utilizing an aircraft’s restraint system. These containers are particularly important for transporting goods to places where access by road, rail, or port is difficult, including equipment that is vital to U.S. diplomatic missions and medical or relief provisions needed in disaster or epidemic zones.

“Offset loading is a safe, efficient and cost-effective means of transporting containers,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “The FAA’s recent proposal would do serious harm to our air cargo industry and could threaten vital national interests.”

On Dec. 1, 2014 the FAA published a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” that would expressly prohibit the offset loading of sea-land containers by the U.S. air cargo industry.

Kowall said the FAA’s proposal is based on flawed information and testing methods.

“The FAA safety tests did not reflect the actual methods used to conduct offset loading under the International Air Transport Association standards, which are followed by carriers throughout the world,” Kowall said. “Testing performed earlier this year under more realistic conditions and using prescribed standards demonstrated that offset loading can be used without threat to safety.

According to the International Air Transport Association, there has never been an accident or incident involving the loading of sea-land containers. Kowall said the FAA’s proposal would put carriers in the U.S. at a significant competitive disadvantage to foreign carriers who are not required to adopt the FAA’s proposal.

Copies of Senate Resolution 26 will be transmitted to the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and the members of the Michigan congressional delegation.

Spinal Column: Good progress made in the first quarter of 2015

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Michigan’s 98th Legislature wrapped up the first quarter of the new term at the end of March. Senate Republicans had set an ambitious agenda for 2015, and I am happy to report that we have made good progress in the first quarter toward accomplishing those goals.

Our priorities focused on four different categories: stimulating job creation and growth; improving education; holding government accountable; and promoting policies that improve quality of life for all Michiganders.

Job Creation
To keep Michigan moving forward, we must meet the increased need for skilled workers in today’s economy. We passed legislation that encourages strong relationships between community colleges and employers by expanding and providing greater funding for special employee training agreements that eliminate the skills gap.

We also approved a measure that would allow a student to receive a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) certification and place it on their high school diploma and transcript. A STEM endorsement will set our students apart as they pursue educational or career opportunities.

Education
Reading is the foundation for student success and achievement. By the time children reach middle school, all academic subjects require proficiency in reading, so it’s important to start early.

We recommended an increase in funding for third grade reading programs to ensure brighter outcomes for our kids and grandkids. I also visited elementary schools in my district as a guest reader during March is Reading Month to share the importance of reading.

Government Accountability
As legislators, one of our most important jobs is to ensure government is accountable to the people who pay for it. We eliminated more than $500 million of wasteful spending in the FY 15 budget to ensure your hard-earned tax dollars are spent efficiently and effectively.

Quality of Life
Our Great Lakes support vibrant fishing, tourism and boating industries and are critical to our way of life. To protect our native species and waters, we called on the federal government to close the Chicago locks and end water diversions through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to prevent Asian Carp and other harmful species from entering our lakes.

These are just some of the accomplishments of the past three months. As we move through spring and beyond, my colleagues and I will continue to focus on policies that promote good jobs, education, freedom and quality of life for all of us.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.