A California bill to strictly limit drone use passed out of an important state senate committee last week, and is now slated to receive a vote from the full senate. The bill had previously passed through the state assembly by a 63-6 vote.
Assembly Bill 1327 (AB1327) passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Jun. 30 after the bill was amended slightly by the Senate Public Safety Committee. It is now slated to be debated upon in the senate chamber before receiving a full vote. If AB1327 passes successfully, the assembly will need to approve it again due to the bill being amended.
AB1327 would ban law enforcement agencies in California from using an unmanned aircraft system (drone). Use would be allowed only if it has “obtained a warrant based on probable cause,” along with very limited exceptions. Those exceptions are assessing “the necessity of first responders in situations relating to traffic accidents, to inspect state parks and wilderness areas for illegal vegetation, or fires.”
The bill also bans the weaponization of drones within California. The prohibition is on any “weapon or other device that may be carried by or launched from an unmanned aircraft system and that is intended to cause bodily injury or death, or damage to, or the destruction of, real or personal property.”
Not only does the bill directly prohibit law enforcement in the state from flying drones without a warrant over California, it would also serve to put the brakes on more general federal plans to expand drone use across the U.S.
In fact, the federal government serves as the primary engine behind the expansion of drone surveillance carried out by states and local communities. The Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local governments so they can purchase drones. Those grants, in and of themselves, represent an unconstitutional expansion of power.
The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once they create a web over the whole country, DHS steps in with requests for ‘information sharing.’ Bills like these put a dent in this kind of long-term strategy. Without the states and local communities operating the drones today, it’s going to be nearly impossible for DHS plans to – take off.
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING
If you live in California: Click HERE to find out what steps you can take to support this bill.
If you live in another state: Visit the Tenth Amendment Action Center to see what action you can take to limit drone use in your state HERE.