Advocacy Update: Week of April 20
As many of you know, this coming Friday (April 24th) at 11:59 PM ET is the deadline for comments on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) notice of proposed rulemaking for the operation and certification of small unmanned aircraft systems. According to the FAA “this rulemaking would adopt specific rules for the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in the National Airspace System. These changes would address the classification of small unmanned aircraft, certification of their pilots and visual observers, registration, approval of operations, and operational limits in order to increase the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system.”
The website for submitting comments and additional information can be found here.
On April 14, AUVSI attended and spoke before the Pipeline Educational Conference in Breezy Point, Minnesota. The event had more than 400 attendees, all who were interested in how UAS could be utilized for pipeline inspection and safety. Mario Mairena, senior government relations manager, provided attendees with an overview of advocacy efforts and outreach, chapters, products and services, the economic impact of UAS, potential applications of UAS, and recent examples of UAS use. He also addressed current regulations, issues relating to privacy at the state level and industry’s position on privacy matters.
HB649 was reported out of the Judiciary Committee and laid on the table. The bill received a first reading on April 3. If passed, the bill would prohibit a person or state agency from using UAS to capture images of privately owned or occupied property with the intent to conduct surveillance without written consent if a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. SB766, the Senate equivalent of HB649, was passed by Appropriations by a vote of 18-0.
AUVSI and the Florida Peninsula and Emerald Coast chapters continue to work with legislators and have requested Florida lawmakers for their strongest possible support for the pro-UAS bills, SB1178 and HB979. Additionally, AUVSI and chapter representatives are working with Sen. Jeff Brandes on amendment language to mitigate matters on SB766.
HB1328 was passed by North Dakota’s Senate by a vote of 29-17. The House previously approved the legislation in February. HB1328 would place limits on law enforcement's use of UAS. Information gathered by UAS would not be admissible to obtain a search warrant or in a "prosecution or proceeding within the state" unless law enforcement obtained a search warrant. The bill doesn't prohibit use of unmanned aircraft for surveillance during patrol of national borders, instances of imminent danger to life or bodily harm, an environmental catastrophe or for research. Late last week, HB1328 was signed into law by the governor.
AB239 which was voted favorably out of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary will likely be headed to the Assembly floor on April 21. Although there are some amendments that are being considered, it will likely pass the Assembly in its original form. The measure will now move to the Senate where the 40-day clock begins to count down before a final decision is reached on this matter. AUVSI will be reaching out to its Nevada Chapter, the International Association Chiefs of Police, and the Airborne Law Enforcement Association to provide comments to members of the Senate and the governor’s office.
Previously in Virginia, the House rejected the governor's recommendations (28-Y 69-N) and passed HB2125 in enrolled form. The Senate did not have enough affirmative votes to pass the bill in enrolled form. HB2125 replaces the moratorium and requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant before using UAS. Also, the Senate rejected the governor’s recommendations for the previously passed SB1301. The bill makes it a misdemeanor to operate, manufacture, sale, or distribute a UAS as a weapon or to deliver a weapon. The bill requires any governmental agency or organization to gain the approval of the General Assembly or local governing body before procuring a UAS and requires a warrant for governmental use of such an aircraft.