Off to Rick Perry’s Desk: Bill to Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying

AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas bill that would nullify warrantless drone spying gained final approval this week and now heads to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for his signature.

HB912 would virtually eliminate all warrantless drone spying in the Lone Star State and criminalizes all drone use outside of carefully prescribed parameters.

The Texas Privacy Act states that “a person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image.” The offender would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if they were caught violating this part of the law.

The bill then outlines acceptable application of drones, including pursuant to a criminal warrant.

Data gathered by law enforcement illegally ‘may not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding’ according to the bill and ‘is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for its release.’ This incentivizes police to not misuse the drone technology unless they wish to risk jeopardizing their entire investigation.

House passed the bill by a vote of 128-11 on May 10, and the Senate gave a slightly amended version its approval 29-1 a week later. HB912 then went to a conference committee and both chambers approved the final version.

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The IRS Has Already Abused Its Powers under ObamaCare

by Michael Cannon, CATO Institute Over at Bloomberg, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru writes about the Obama administration’s disregard for the rule of law, including the IRS’s $800 billion power grab: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health-care law that Obama signed in 2010, asks state governments to set up health exchanges, and authorizes the federal government to…

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Common Core Nationalizes and Dumbs Down Public School Curriculum

by Ron Paul

In addition to shredding civil liberties, launching a utopian global war for democracy, and going on a spending spree that would make LBJ blush, the so-called “conservative” Bush administration dramatically increased federal control over education via the “No Child Left Behind” act. During my time in Congress I heard nothing but complaints about this law from teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, students and parents. Most of the complaints concerned No Child Left Behind’s testing requirements, which encouraged educators to “teach to the test.”

Sadly, but not surprisingly, instead of improving education by repealing No Child Left Behind’s testing and other mandates, the Obama administration is increasing national control over schools via the “Common Core” initiative. Common Core is a new curriculum developed by a panel of so-called education experts. The administration is trying to turn Common Core into a national curriculum by offering states increased federal education funding if they impose Common Core’s curriculum on their public schools. This is yet another example of the government using money stolen from the people to bribe states into obeying federal dictates.

Critics of Common Core say it “dumbs down” education by replacing traditional English literature with “informational texts”. So students will read such inspiring materials as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council. It is doubtful that reading federal reports will teach students the habits of critical thinking and skepticism of government that the Founders considered essential to maintaining a free republic.

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Wisconsin Will Consider Bill to Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying

MADISON, Wisc. – Wisconsin joined the growing number of states considering restrictions on drone use last week.

Assembly Bill 203 and Senate Bill 196 prohibit state law enforcement from using a drone to gather evidence without a warrant except under carefully prescribed circumstances.

No Wisconsin law enforcement agency may use a drone to gather evidence or other information in a criminal investigation without first obtaining a search warrant under s. 968.12. This subsection does not apply to the use of a drone to assist in an active search and rescue operation, to locate an escaped prisoner, or if a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the use of a drone is necessary to prevent imminent danger to an individual or to prevent imminent destruction of evidence.

The legislation also bans weaponized drones completely and applies criminal penalties for violations of the law.

A person who sells, possesses, or uses a weaponized drone is guilty of a Class H felony, and may be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to six  years, or both. The bill prohibits a person, except a law enforcement officer who has  a search warrant or is acting for a permissible emergency purpose, from using a  drone that is equipped with video or audio recording equipment to photograph,  record, or otherwise observe another individual in a place where the individual has  a reasonable expectation of privacy. Anyone who does so is guilty of a Class A  misdemeanor, and may be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to nine months, or  both.

Unlike many drone bills under consideration or passed by state legislatures, the Wisconsin bill does not provide an exception for Department of Homeland Security defined terror threats.

While the legislation only limits drone use by state and local government, it will seriously impact federal plans. At this stage in the ‘drone game,’ the feds are working hard behind the scenes to get states to operate the drones for them.

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