Massachusetts legislature to consider drone privacy bills

by Yiqian Wang, ConstitutionCampaign

In response to the proliferation of drone technology and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) expanding list of certified drone users, Senator Robert Hedlund and Representative Colleen Garry of Massachusetts have introduced dual bills (collectively known as The Drone Privacy Act) in an attempt to regulate the use of such unmanned aerial vehicles in the state.

In addition to the wholesale ban on the use of weaponized drone technology, provisions of the bill construct strict limitations upon the use of drones for both public safety and law enforcement purposes. In the event that a drone is necessary for law enforcement purposes, government and police officials are required to obtain a warrant with probable cause before any deployment of drones can take place. Conversely, the bills would permit the use of drones in instances where information is obtained without the intent of future usage in criminal proceedings. Furthermore, drone use will remain allowable in exigent circumstances, including emergencies when a danger to human life or safety is believed to be imminent.

Speaking on the proposed legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts states that while:

The word “drone” conjures images of conflicts across the globe, remote controlled aerial technology is increasingly of interest to local law enforcement too. While the FAA will regulate drones’ use of airspace, it is up to state lawmakers to ensure that this emerging technology is used responsibly in Massachusetts–without weapons, of course, and not for warrantless surveillance of residents.

The unregulated use of drones has been an area of intense conflict


Tennessee Action Alert: Call Sen. Stevens to Dislodge SB 250 Out of Committee

After the tie vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 27, SB 250 remains stuck in that committee.  It is still alive, but won’t move unless Tennesseans mobilize to get it dislodged for a second committee vote.

Watch the full committee meeting:

SB 250 is a bill that is critical to protecting the firearms rights of Tennesseans against a federal gun control scheme.

The key to bringing the bill up for a second vote is Sen. John Stevens.  He was one of the “nay” votes on the bill, but we need to pressure him specifically to support bringing the bill for a second vote.

Please contact him now to encourage him to support a second vote on SB 250, as well as to change his vote to “yea.”  Phone calls will have much more impact than emails, but do both if you can.  Remember to be polite but firm in your communications with Sen. Stevens’ office.

Sen. John Stevens: Republican, District 24
310A WMB, (615) 741-4576,

We are also counting on continued support from these Senators who supported the bill in committee. 


The ABCs of Nullifying the DOE

Among the many Fs the federal government earns for constitutional fidelity, a failing grade is conspicuously assigned to its Department of Education. I doubt even the most jaded federal supremacist can avoid the twinge of guilt for flambéing the 10th Amendment through the nationalization of that most local of all civic concerns, the public school.

While doubtless some regard Congressmen as experts in finger painting, cursive writing, quadratic equations, kickball and spelling, our Founding Fathers did not. The positive right to a free public education found in each of the state constitutions is unambiguously absent from the limited powers granted by the Constitution to the federal government. A federal government was set up to prevent trade wars among the states and coordinate a common defense against bullying by the grandiose Europeans. It was never designed to apportion salt in school cafeterias (see “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs”, 4088 Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 17, Thursday, January 26, 2012, Rules and Regulations) or to promote the Keynesian viewpoints of the Federal Reserve Board (see Common Core Standards, Appendix B, p. 177).

Unfortunately, the Constitution is not self-executing. In other words, it cannot be counted on to break out of its glass tomb at the National Archives, race down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, and arrest Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner for high crimes against liberty. Instead, that task, the task of enforcing the limits of the Constitution, was left to the sovereigns, i.e., the people, with help from their respective agents, the states. Enforcing those limits, as fans of the Tenth Amendment Center know, is called nullification.

Nullifying federal education laws and regulations is much easier than you think. I’ll go hardest to easiest, but all paths can get you there.


Utah 2nd Amendment Preservation Act Passes House Committee, 7-2

After multiple committee hearings in recent weeks, yesterday the 2nd Amendment Preservation Act was passed by the Utah House Judiciary Committee. The vote was 7-2 and the bill will now move to the full state house for consideration, debate and full vote.

House Bill 114 (HB114) was introduced by 1st-Term State Representative Brian Greene and 24 cosponsors. The bill would nullify most federal gun control measures on firearms, accessories and ammunition either owned OR made within the state. The bill affirms that:

it is the exclusive authority of the state Legislature to adopt and enact any and all laws, orders, rules, or regulations regarding the manufacture, transfer, possession, ownership, and use of firearms exclusively within this state

It also takes the strong constitutional positions that laws which are contrary to the 2nd Amendment are no law at all:

finds that a federal statute, regulation, rule, or order that has the purpose, intent, or effect of confiscating or banning any firearm, firearm accessory, limiting the capacity of a firearm magazine, imposing any limitation on ammunition or an ammunition component, or requiring the registration of any firearm or ammunition infringes on the right of citizens of Utah to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 6 of the Utah Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton proclaimed the same when he wrote the following in Federalist #78:


Idaho Senate Committee Considers Drone Bills

In line with what is now taking place across the country, senators in Idaho have drafted a bill to address the issue of unwarranted surveillance by drones. This is an ever more pressing concern with the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) – both large and small – available for a variety of uses, including that of  law enforcement.

SB 1067, The Preserving Freedom From Unwarranted Surveillance Act, was introduced by the Senate Transportation Committee and establishes provisions relating to the gathering of evidence or other information through the use of drones or other unmanned aircraft. Also relating to the use of a drone by a law enforcement agency when exigent circumstance exist, relating to civil actions and providing that no information obtained in violation of the provisions may be admissible as evidence in criminal proceedings.

Exigent circumstance are considered to exist if law enforcement “possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action to prevent imminent danger to life is necessary.”

Restrictions on the gathering of information include; “no person, entity, or state agency shall use a drone or other unmanned aircraft to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute, ordinance, regulation or rule, except the the extent authorized in a warrant.”

There is a second senate bill, SB 1051, which also reasserts these principles. The sponsor, Senator Chuck Winder, says that it’s essential to make sure the wide range of drone uses don’t infringe on constitutional protections.