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Updated: 2018 Legislative Proposals Impacting Drone Operations

The 2018 legislative session is kicking into gear across the country. A number of states have introduced proposed legislation impacting Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAVs/UASs), also known as drones. Some of the proposals are simple, while other states have introduced comprehensive regulatory schemes.

The full list of proposals, current through January 22, is included below along with a summary of recent state regulatory actions. Highlights include:

  • Michigan, which preempted local regulation of UAV/UAS operations but proposes to allow Mackinac Island to fully regulate them.
  • Nebraska has proposed comprehensive regulations that would criminalize, among other things, the operation of UAVs/UASs above schools. Nebraska also proposed to create Criminal Trespass by Unmanned Aircraft offenses.

Several states have regulated UAV/UAS operations through administrative actions. Some of the highlights include:

  • The Mackinac State Park Commission in Michigan has banned UAV/UAS operations without written permission where it has jurisdiction.
  • Utah has banned UAV/UAS operations within the state park system without written permission from a park manager.

The list will change as the 2018 legislative session kick into gear. Some proposals will move within the appropriate chambers and even become law while other proposals will die.

Proposed Legislation, Summary, State, and Status

  • Florida – HB 471 (SB 624) – Prohibits Unmanned Aircraft operations over certain infrastructure facilities, including corrections facilities, prohibits the use of UAVs/UASs to introduce contraband into correctional facilities, and allows law enforcement entities to use UAVs/UASs to collect information about a crime or traffic crash scene.
    • 6, 2017 (HB 471) reported favorably by Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. Now in Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.
    • 2, 2017 (SB 624), introduced and referred to Criminal Justice and Judiciary Committees.
  • Hawaii – SB 1051 – Requires all operators to affix a label containing the operator’s name, address, and phone number to his/her Unmanned Aircraft prior to flying in the state.
    • January 17, 2018, Referred to Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health and Judiciary Committees (carried over from the previous session).
  • Hawaii – SB 2160, SB 454, & HB 1792 – Regulates the use of Unmanned Aircraft, requires the Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to issue rules as necessary, and other items as summarized below.
    • January 19, 2018, Introduced (SB 2160);
    • January 17, 2018, Re-referred to Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health and Judiciary Committees (SB 454) (carried over from the previous session);
    • January 17, 2018, Introduced (HB 1792);
    • Requires Director of Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to issue rules necessary to effectuate the legislation, including fines and investigatory authorities;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs in manners inconsistent with federal law or regulations;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs within 500 ft. of an emergency vehicle during an emergency;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs to intentionally collect the personal information of another without that person’s consent;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs over any open air assembly, school, place of worship, prison, or police station without express written consent;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs within certain, differing distances, of specific types of critical infrastructure facilities;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs under the influence of drugs or narcotics or in ways that will cause intentional harm to persons or property;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs by law enforcement or public agencies without warrants, defines exceptions to warrant requirements;
    • Prohibits operation of weaponized UAVs/UASs;
    • Provides for a civil cause of action for violations of the law and allows a prevailing plaintiff to recover attorney’s fees;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs to record or photograph a person in private for the purpose of invading privacy or spying on that person without his or her consent.
  • Indiana – HB 1093 – Defines bullying and allows for the filing of a protective order. Provides that use of Unmanned Aircraft to violate the proposed law is not a valid defense.
    • Introduced (Jan. 3) and read for the first time.
  • Kentucky – HB 22 – Revises existing state Unmanned Aircraft rules, creates provisions regarding unwanted government surveillance. Summary of the specific provisions included below.
    • June 5, 2017, prefiled. Jan. 2, 2018 introduced and assigned to the Committee on Small Business & Information Technology. Jan. 5, 2018 reassigned to the House Judiciary Committee;
    • Requires law enforcement to procure warrants for the use of UAVs/UASs and to have programs in place that minimize data collection of non-suspects if UAVs/UASs are used to collect evidence pursuant to a warrant;
    • Extends criminal liability for existing offenses to include liability if offense committed through operation of UAVs/UASs;
    • Prohibits interference with emergency operations with UAVs/UASs.
  • Michigan – SB 715 – Pre-empts local regulation relating to the ownership or operation of Unmanned Aircraft and allows Mackinac Island to regulate Unmanned Aerial Systems.
  • 12, 2017 Introduced and referred to Transportation Committee.
  • Michigan – HB 5427—Prohibits the use of Unmanned Aircraft to deliver contraband to correctional facilities.
    • January 17, 2017, Introduced.
  • Mississippi – SB 2569 – Preempts municipal and county regulations of Unmanned Aircraft.
    • January 15, 2018, Introduced and referred to Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency
  • Nebraska – LB 693 – Regulate and create criminal offenses (as discussed below) regarding the use of Unmanned Aircraft.
    • Introduced Jan. 3;
    • Immunizes emergency responders from civil liability for damages caused to unmanned aircraft if the ERs reasonably believe the UAV/UAS is interfering with the provision of emergency services;
    • Expands definition of “Unlawful intrusion; photograph, film, record, or live broadcast of intimate area; penalty; court; duties; registration under Sex Offender Registration Act; statute of limitations” to include offenses committed with UAVs/UASs;
    • Creates crime of Criminal Trespass in the First Degree by Unmanned Aircraft where operator enters or secretly remains in a building or occupied structure;
    • Creates the crime of Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree by Unmanned Aircraft where the operator (1) flies at an altitude of less than 300 ft. Above Ground Level (AGL) over property owned/occupied by another; (2) operator knows he is not licensed or privileged to do so; and (3) operator received notice by “actual communication” as to trespass;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs at altitudes of less than 300 ft. AGL over critical infrastructure facilities. Defines CIFs;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs at altitudes of less than 300 ft. AGL over schools. Schools include any public or private K-12 school, public or private college or university, junior college, or vocational postsecondary school;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs that interfere with a police cordon;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs within a prescribed radius of penal institutions;
    • Prohibits operation of weaponized UAVs/UASs;
    • Prohibits use of UAVs/UASs to aid hunting, collection of game, or fishing or obstructing/interfering with those lawfully hunting, etc.;
    • Prohibits the use of UAVs/UASs to harass livestock;
    • Allows law enforcement to use UAVs/UASs if (1) they have a duly issued warrant; (2) they have probable cause to believe a crime is being committed; or (3) they reasonably believe there is an imminent threat to life or safety of an individual. Provides other specific situations where a warrant may not be required.
  • New Jersey – A 1463 – Prohibits law enforcement use of Unmanned Aircraft without warrants. Provides exceptions for warrant requirements. Permits fire department and certain Emergency Management use of UAs, establishes guidelines for UA use.
    • January 9, 2018, Introduced and referred to Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.
  • New Jersey – SB 3370 (AB 5205) – Regulates and prohibits certain Unmanned Aircraft operations (summaries provided below)
    • AB 5205 substituted by SB 3370, Jan. 8, 2018. Passed Assembly. Awaiting Governor’s action;
    • SB 3370, December 7, 2017, passed Senate, received in House. Introduced June 26, 2017;
    • AB 5205, Dec. 4, 2017, reported out of committee, 2nd reading;
    • Prohibits UAV/UAS operations inconsistent with federal laws and regulations;
    • Prohibits knowing or intentional UAV/UAS operation in a manner that endangers the life or property of another;
    • Prohibits knowing or intentional UAV/UAS operation in a manner that endangers the safety or security of a correctional facility or the knowing surveillance of the same;
    • Prohibits knowing or intentional UAV/UAS operation in a manner that interferes with first responders;
    • Prohibits knowing or intentional UAV/UAS operation to take or assist in the taking of wildlife;
    • Prohibits UAV/UAS operation under the influence of liquor, narcotics, hallucinogenics, or habit-producing drug, or with a BAC of .08%;
    • Prohibits use of UAVs/UASs to violate a restraining order;
    • Prohibits the operation of UAVs/UASs to interfere with the lawful taking of wildlife.
  • Utah – HB 59 – Prohibits operation of Unmanned Aircraft within 0.25 mile of a correctional facility.
    • Prefiled December 15, 2017. A fiscal note from Fiscal Analyst received January 17, 2018.
  • Vermont – H 615 – Prohibits the operation of Unmanned Aircraft within 500 horizontal feet or 400 vertical feet of a correctional facility.
    • January 12, 2018, Introduced and referred to Committee on Corrections and Institutions.
  • Virginia – HB 638 – Proposes several laws impacting Unmanned Aircraft operations.
    • January 9, 2018, Introduced and referred to Committee for Courts of Justice;
    • Provides for aerial criminal trespass for UAVs/UASs operations if the operator (1) is flying over the property of another; (2) has received notice to cease and desist; and (3) causes the device to enter the property of another with the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate another person;
    • Prohibits UAVs/UASs use to knowingly and intentionally follow, contact, or capture images of another person. Provides operators may not use UA to follow or capture images of another in violation of a protective order.
  • Virginia – HB 1482 – Requires law enforcement entities or other public bodies to secure a search warrant before conducting a search using an Unmanned Aircraft.
    • January 18, 2018, Introduced.
  • Virginia – HB 1290 – Permits law enforcement to use tethered Unmanned Aircraft without a warrant in certain circumstances if the person with legal authority for the property over which the tethered UA is to fly provides consent.
    • January 10, 2018, Introduced and referred to Committee for Courts of Justice.
  • Virginia – SB 307 – Authorizes the Aviation Board to promulgate rules and regulations relating to Unmanned Aircraft operations and empowers the Department of Aviation to enforce the promulgated rules.
    • January 8, 2018, Introduced and referred to Transportation Committee.
  • Virginia – SB 508 – Permits the Department of Transportation and the Virginia State Police to use Unmanned Aircraft when photographic accident scenes or to help accident reconstruction without warrants.
    • January 22, 2018, passed Committee (Committee for Courts of Justice). Introduced January 9, 2018.
  • Virginia – SB 186 – Prohibits the use of Unmanned Aircraft by law enforcement without a warrant unless the use falls within specific, enumerated exceptions (Amber, Silver, or Blue Alerts and immediate danger). Prohibits the use of weaponized unmanned aircraft by civilians or law enforcement.
    • Prefiled December 29, 2017. Introduced Jan. 10, 2018 and referred to Committee for Courts of Justice.
  • Washington – HB 1049 – Regulates Unmanned Aircraft operations, as summarized below
    • 8, 2018, retained by resolution in present status. Referred to House Committee on Technology & Economic Development;
    • Prohibits launch of UAVs/UASs in WA unless device is clearly labeled with the name and telephone number of the operator;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs over another’s property without permission of the property owner/occupant;
    • Allows for property owner/occupant to bring an aerial trespass action against UAV/UAS operators if: (1) UAV/UAS is flown over the owner’s/occupant’s property; and (2) the operator has flown the UAV/UAS over the property at least once before. Provides for liquidated damages and attorney’s fees for a prevailing plaintiff.
  • Washington – HB 1031 – Prohibits Unmanned Aircraft operations within 200 ft. of an orca whale.
    • Retained by resolution in present status. Referred to House Committee on Technology & Economic Development
  • Washington – HB 2363 – Prohibits the use of Unmanned Aircraft for delivering contraband to detention or other secure facilities.
    • Pre-filed (Jan. 3). Hearing scheduled in the House Committee on Public Safety, 8:00 AM, Jan. 11, 2018.
  • Washington – SB 6356 – Expands the definition of “Critical Infrastructure Facilities” to include military installations under the jurisdiction of the United States. Prohibits Unmanned Aircraft operations within 400 vertical feet of a critical infrastructure facility or in a way that causes UA to make contact with the facility or any person or in a way that interferes with the facility’s operations.
    • January 12, 2018, Introduced and referred to Law and Justice Committee.
  • West Virginia – HB 3005 – Establishes several new crimes for improper operation of Unmanned Aircraft, as summarized below.
    • January 22, 2018, passed House Judiciary Committee (introduced January 10, 2018);
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs to invade privacy including the “knowing and intentional” capture of photographs, video, or audio of another without consent;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs to knowingly and intentionally harass another or within a distance that would violate a restraining order;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs in a manner with a willful wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property;
    • Prohibits operation of UAVs/UASs in manners that interfere with law enforcement or emergency responders.

State Regulations

  • Michigan – Admin. Code 318.111, 318.146 – Prohibits operation of Unmanned Aircraft on/in Mackinac Island without proper written permission where the Mackinac Island State Park Commission has jurisdiction.
  • Oklahoma – Admin. Code 1:2016-15 (Executive Orders) – Signing statement. Gov. directs OK agencies to promulgate rules for Unmanned Aircraft operations, pursuant to HB 2599 in manners consistent with federal laws and regulations.
  • Oregon – OAR 738-080-0015 – Adds definition of “Unmanned Aircraft” to the section on “aircraft registration.”
  • Oregon – OAR 738-080-0045 – Requires all public departments, public agencies, and other public entities to register each UAS with the FAA prior to registration with the ODA.
  • Oregon – OAR 738-140-0025 – Provides for penalties for intentional violation of public body registration of UAS requirement.
  • Tennessee – Comp. R. & Regs. 1720-01-02-.06 – Prohibits the operation of Unmanned Aircraft in any Tennessee University property building or over any University-owned streets or sidewalks unless the operator is either licensed by the University or is conducting research under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • Utah – Utah Admin. Code R651-601, R651-602-8 – Requires written permission from park manager prior to operating an Unmanned Aircraft within the park system

Note: This post has been updated to include new legislative proposals.


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