Legislative Landscape Continues To Develop For UAS

Discussions of unmanned aircraft systems and regulating their use continue to occur in state legislatures across the country.

With the number of operators ever increasing, it’s likely more of these discussions are set to come, though many of those operators would point out that the technology has outpaced regulations for some time now.

While the Federal Aviation Administration continues to work on its rules for the operation of small UAS — considered aircraft under 55 pounds — states have taken some regulatory matters into their own hands.

A number of states have already passed laws limiting their use by law enforcement and others.

In total, 41 states have debated legislation in 2016. Last years, 45 states heard nearly 170 bills related to unmanned aircraft.

So far this year, seven states have passed 10 pieces of legislation regulating unmanned aircraft in some form or addressing issues posed by the technology.

The National Conference of State Legislatures sums up current legislation in its April 15 update:

“Idaho SB 1213 prohibits the use of UAS for hunting, molesting or locating game animals, game birds and furbearing animals.

Indiana HB 1013 allows the use of UAS to photograph or take video of a traffic accident site. HB 1246 prohibits the use of UAS to scout game during hunting season.

Oregon HB 4066 modifies definitions related UAS and makes it a class A misdemeanor to operate a weaponized UAS. It also creates the offense of reckless interference with an aircraft through certain uses of UAS. The law regulates the use of drones by public bodies, including requiring policies and procedures for the retention of data. It also prohibits the use of UAS near critical infrastructure, including correctional facilities. SB 5702 specifies the fees for registration of public UAS.

Tennessee SB 2106 creates the crime of using a drone to fly within 250 feet of a critical infrastructure facility for the purpose of conducting surveillance or gathering information about the facility.

Utah HB 126 makes it a class B misdemeanor to operate a UAS within a certain distance of a wildfire. It becomes a class A misdemeanor if the UAS causes an aircraft fighting the wildfire to drop a payload in the wrong location or to land without dropping the payload. It is a third degree felony if the UAS crashes into a manned aircraft and a second degree if that causes the manned aircraft to crash.

Virginia HB 412 prohibits the regulation of UAS by localities.

Wisconsin SB 338 prohibits using a drone to interfere with hunting, fishing or trapping. AB 670 prohibits the operation of UAS over correctional facilities.”