Drone regulation bills in talks for Minnesota
Published 10:49 am Thursday, April 3, 2014
ST. PAUL — Minnesota lawmakers pressing for restrictions on unmanned aerial devices are already looking to pursue legislation next year to regulate them.
Supporters of drone restrictions said that their bills have stalled in committee for the year. The proposals range from a broad ban on the use of unmanned aircraft to specific restrictions on law enforcement use.
“Law enforcement had historically raised a lot of questions about these privacy concerns in the past,” said Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul. “That caused some legislators to say ‘Hey, slow down let’s take a longer look at this.’ And I think that was the primary reason why.”
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Lesch was hoping to require law enforcement to have a warrant before using a drone to watch private citizens. Instances of drone use by local or state authorities are isolated, and major police departments told lawmakers they have no immediate plans to deploy them regularly.
Minnesota isn’t alone in attempting to put drone regulations into law. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 40 states had bills relating to the unmanned aircraft last year. Only 13 passed laws.
The Federal Aviation
Administration is setting rules that dictate how small drones can share airspace.
Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, said the drone issue has generated more interest than before but no groundswell of support for privacy protections.
“We need to get our arms around this up-and-coming technology and the concerns that will inevitably result,” Nienow added. Lesch said he expects unmanned aircraft companies will lobby.
be geared up to lobby against privacy rules by next year. Nienow said he would like to see an interim working group set up to bring recommendations the next legislative session.