Do states have the authority to make such laws?
Yes. There are two ways (that I can think of) to answer this question:
a.) states can make laws which exceed federal laws/regulations, as long as the feds have not passed a law specifically forbidding states from exceeding their regs/laws (and depending on the situation, the feds may not be able to do that)
b.) This law has to do with flight schools, and while there is also FAA oversight of flight schools (with regards to certified flight schools--those from which one can get an FAA license) flight schools are also schools, and education is in the state's domain, and while i wont' say "period" to that, states are pretty sovereign with what they can do with education.
BTW, how many of the 9/11 hijackers had criminal records?
I don't believe any of them did.
This is the type of behaviour you would expected from California.
Oh my...I love this quote; I couldn't agree more. A very bad law indeed. (Having watched a lot of laws at the state level, they are always hard to get rid of.) The fact that a CCW background check, which I suspect many pilots/pilots to be, have already been through, doesn't count, bugs me.
Actually, the state could have very well required a non-fingerprint background check, but I think that Michigan has gone fingerprint happy in recent times (see California) and I think that's a shame because MI used to be pretty sensitive about that sorta thing.