New Texas Law Bans Warrantless Drone Spying

Last Friday, Governor Perry signed into law a bill to severely restrict the use of drones for surveillance.   Dubbed the ‘Texas Privacy Act’, H.B. 912 is an attempt to rein in potential abuses related to the rapidly-developing drone technology that has made its hands into the hands of government at the state and federal levels. The bill was originally authored by Rep. Gooden (R-District 4) and amassed over 100 co-sponsors since it was introduced Feb. 1, showing vast and bipartisan support for stopping the government’s Orwellian takeover of our skies. The House passed the bill by a vote of 128-11 on May 10th. (roll call here)  And the Senate passed a slightly amended version of the bill by a vote of 29-1. (roll call here).

BILL INFORMATION

The bill 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.

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.

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Nullification Returns to Wisconsin

By Phil Zimmermann, originally posted at Wisconsin Republic

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required citizens of the free states to capture and return escaped slaves. Wisconsin lead the charge against this despicable federal legislation through nullification and widespread non-compliance.

The Wisconsin Legislature passed a nullification resolution declaring the Fugitive Slave Act to be “without authority, void, and of no force.” The Wisconsin courts as well declined to prosecute Wisconsinites who refused to comply with the law.

Justice Smith of the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in 1854:

But the real danger to the union consists, not so much in resistance to laws constitutionally enacted, as in acquiescence in measures which violate the constitution.  It is much safer to resist unauthorized and unconstitutional power, at its very commencement, when it can be done by constitutional means, than to wait until the evil is so deeply and firmly rooted that the only remedy is revolution.

Today the Federal government again threatens civil rights. The Patriot Act and the Orwellian NSA surveillance state have all but destroyed the 4th amendment. The IRS and DOJ targeting of political groups and journalists seems bent on destroying the 1st amendment as well.

Against this backdrop Wisconsin Rep. Michael Schraa has introduced legislation to address the significant efforts being made to limit our ability to protect ourselves and our families, as guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.

“This bill, the Firearms Freedom Act, sends a simple message to the federal government,” said Schraa (R – Oshkosh).  “Wisconsin will not help you take away our second amendment rights.”

Schraa’s legislation targets the overzealous interpretation of the interstate commerce clause that the federal government uses to claim it can regulate all commerce. The legislation makes it clear that a firearm that is manufactured and housed in Wisconsin cannot be considered part of interstate commerce.

This clearly has implications that extend beyond firearms.

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It’s not Edward Snowden who Betrayed Us

by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom Foundation

When you cut through the fog, the NSA controversy is about whether we should trust people with institutional power. Edward Snowden’s courageous exposure of massive secret surveillance separates those who say yes from those who say, “Hell no!”

The trusting attitude can be found among progressives and conservatives alike (with notable exceptions), and even some who have identified themselves as libertarians. Matt Miller, an occasional guest host on the progressive network MSNBC, left no doubt where he stands when he flippantly wrote in the Washington Post,

Do you empathize more with those who govern — and who in this case are charged with protecting us? Or has the history of abuse of power, and the special danger from such abuses in an age when privacy seems to be vanishing, leave you hailing any exposure of secret government methods as grounds for sainthood?…

Is there potential for abuse? Of course. An Internet-era J. Edgar Hoover is frightening to conjure. But what Snowden exposed was not some rogue government-inside-the-government conspiracy. It’s a program that’s legal, reviewed by Congress and subject to court oversight.

So it’s okay if the government monitors masses of innocent people as long as it’s reviewed by a clique of gagged members of Congress and a secret rubber-stamp “court.” That’s what I call trust in power. Frankly, it’s more alarming that the spying is legal rather than rogue. Michael Kinsley once said, “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.”

Miller’s progressive colleague Richard Cohen said much the same thing in much the same tone:

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Action Alert: Nullify Federal Gun ‘Laws’ Locally in the state of Colorado

Colorado state lawmakers showed themselves as anti-gun zealots during the last legislative session, despite tenacious local opposition. In reaction, grassroots activists have initiated efforts to  recall state Senator John Morse, gathering more than 16,000 signatures.

Clearly, at this point Coloradans can’t count on their state lawmakers to protect their right to keep and bear arms from federal infringement.

Bring your sheriff, local law enforcement, and your community together. Educate each other on nullification, the Second Amendment, and the Constitution. Teach community members that no state or locality is forced into enforcing federal laws. Then introduce model legislation to preserve the Second Amendment to your local lawmakers. Encourage your city, town, municipality and county officials to refuse to aid, enforce, or provide resources to the federal government when it attempts to violate Second Amendment.

Local noncompliance can create major obstructions and impediments. Federal law enforcement agencies lack the manpower and resources to enforce federal laws on their own. They always require the aid of state AND local law enforcement. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said recently, widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here).

It’s going to take work to ensure that this is how things play out.  Here’s what you can start doing right now.  

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Whose Rights are They Anyway?

At a gathering of TEA Party and Liberty groups leaders this past weekend I repeatedly heard them refer to our constitutional rights in questions put forth to a candidate running for political office. At any other setting, I would have corrected them, but I felt it was not my place to correct them since it wasn’t my event and I was a guest.Bill of Rights Redacted

I was wrong; I should have.

We DO NOT have constitutional rights; we don’t even have constitutionally protected rights.

We have inalienable rights, or if you prefer – unchallengeable, absolute, immutable, unassailable, incontrovertible, undisputable, indisputable, undeniable, natural or as prefer to call them God given rights.

These rights existed before the Constitution and they existed even before government.

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Oscoda County Leads Michigan Effort To Nullify Federal Gun Control

Three townships in Michigan have joined the wave of resistance to federal violations of the Second Amendment, as Comins, Greenwood and Big Creek passed resolutions proclaiming the unconditional right of their residents to keep and bear arms.

The Big Creek resolution passed unanimously, while the Comins resolution passed 4 to 1. The Greenwood resolution was extended to protect the entire Bill of Rights and passed unanimously. The resolution was also introduced in Clinton Township, where it was tabled and will be discussed at a later meeting.

Activists in Oscoda County say they hope to get similar resolutions passed in all of the townships within county limits, sending a message to state legislators that they must act to protect Second Amendment rights from federal intrusion.

“I plan to get all our townships on board, then start on other counties around us, and hope it snowballs into a statewide process.”

Joseph Stone introduced the resolution in Big Creek Township.

“I am a strong Second Amendment and open carry advocate and we need to continue to fight for our rights,” he said.

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IRS: Corrupt to the Core

In 1913, the 16th Amendment became part of the Constitution for these United States, allowing the federal government to tax “income.”

Since then, this seemingly harmless change in funding methodology has ballooned into something the drafters of the amendment couldn’t have imagined. Surely they didn’t expect the agency charged with collections to adopt rules and regulations effectively repealing the Fifth Amendment when dealing with it? Certainly they did not plan to create thousands of pages of regulations that no average citizen could be expected to understand, costing tens of billions of dollars in compliance costs every year. They couldn’t have anticipated that the total spending of the U.S. Government would balloon to the point that it now consumes between four and eight times what it did pre-income tax (relative to GDP). Surely they did not expect these things, or maybe they did, but by-God, we got them.

One thing is clear to me after observing federal politics over these last couple of decades…the resignation of a few key officials will not fix what ails the IRS.

Just like Obama is not the only problem in D.C., these IRS officials aren’t the problem with the IRS. The truth be told Obama is ‘only’ expanding on what Bush, Clinton, Bush, and even Reagan did before him. The problem is systemic…just like the IRS problem.

The IRS is merely being the IRS. Even if every tin-pot, dictator-wannabe in the agency gets fired, and an entire new regime is installed tomorrow, the IRS will still be bound by the corrupt rules ignoring and violating the Constitution each and every day.

The rules that the IRS drafts are viewed as ‘constitutional’ because  the agency was actually created pursuant to an act of Congress to raise revenue for the treasury during the Civil War, long before the 16th Amendment was even passed. The rules it operates under were simply adopted by the IRS itself, and deemed to be constitutional because the the agency itself is a creation of the Treasury Department! Nonetheless, they pass regulations that contradict the Constitution all the time. Not to mention, anybody who does a little research knows that following the “constitutional path” to pass a law does automatically magically endow an act constitutional.

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Ohio Bill Would Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying

Ohio has joined the growing number of states considering restrictions on drone use. Legislation limiting the use of drones by law enforcement agencies was introduced on 6/12/2013 by Ohio State Representative Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont).

House Bill 207 was introduced in response to law enforcement agencies seeking to purchase and use unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones.

“As this technology continues to become more prevalent, the state of Ohio must be vigilant in seeing that drones are used only in circumstances that specifically protect public safety,” Damschroder stated. “HB 207 ensures that law enforcement agencies are only using drone technology for appropriate reasons. We have all watched over the past few weeks how technology could potentially be used by government agencies to violate our privacy and conduct unwarranted surveillance. We need to do everything possible to prevent a Big Brother society where government exerts too much control of our lives or has too much access to our private information.”

The bill states that no law enforcement agency shall operate a drone unless the agency has obtained a search warrant, or if a law enforcement agency has reasonable suspicion that swift action is needed to prevent imminent harm to life, serious damage to property, or to prevent the escape of a suspect or destruction of evidence. HB 207 further ensures that no information or evidence collected while operating a drone shall be used in a court proceeding if it was obtained in violation of the exceptions provided in the bill.

“We all have a right to personal privacy and HB 207 advances that cause,” Damschroder continued. “The bill is a preemptive strike against the abuse of our 4th amendment rights and makes it clear that drones cannot be used simply to spy on individuals and survey our property.”

ACTION ITEMS FOR HB 207

1. Contact your state representative. Strongly encourage her/him to support HB 207.

http://www.ohiohouse.gov/members/member-directory

2.  Encourage your local community to take action as well. Using model legislation

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Maine House Passes Bill to Nullify Unconstitutional Federal Ban on Hemp Farming and Production

Last Wednesday, the Maine House of Representatives passed LD525 (Industrial Hemp) which allows hemp cultivation in the state of Maine, effectively nullifying unconstitutional federal acts which ban the same.  The bill is a simple amendment to previous hemp farming laws removing a requirement that federal permission must first be acquired before production is authorized.  The final vote on LD525 was 24-10 (roll call here).

The amendment simply states:

3. Application. A person desiring to grow industrial hemp for commercial purposes shall apply to the commissioner for a license on a form prescribed by the commissioner. The application must include the name and address of the applicant, the legal description of the land area to be used for the production of industrial hemp and a map, an aerial photograph or global positioning coordinates sufficient for locating the production fields.

4. License issued.   Upon review and approval of an application, the commissioner shall notify the applicant and request that the application fee determined under subsection 7 be submitted. Upon receipt of the appropriate fee, the commissioner shall issue a license, which is valid for a period of one year and only for the site or sites specified in the license.

The bill now has moved to the Maine State Senate where Senator Emily Cain made a motion to have the bill placed on the Special Appropriations Table. In Maine, the Special Appropriations Table is where funding of the bill is determined. If the bill is properly funded, it moves forward. However, this is also the one of those legislative road blocks that is often used to kill bills. If the Senate fails to fund a bill, it will die here. So putting pressure on Maine State Senators is crucial for the advancement of this bill.  If passed, Maine would become the 2nd state in the country to nullify the unconstitutional federal ban on hemp farming and production.  Just this month, Colorado’s Governor Hickenloooper signed a bill making his state the first.

ACTION ITEMS  

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Oregon Senate Passes Bill to Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying

SALEM, Ore – Last Monday, the Oregon Senate passed an amended version of a bill that would nullify drone use without a warrant in all but a few cases.

HB2710 “Provides that drones may be used by law enforcement agency for purpose of surveillance of persons only pursuant to a warrant or in emergency circumstances. Provides that law enforcement agencies may use drones to intercept communications only as provided under laws relating to wiretaps other interceptions of communications. Requires destruction of images and other information acquired by use of drone within 30 days.”

The bill also outlaws weaponized drones.

The House passed its version of the bill 52-7 on April 15. The Senate passed the amended version 23-5.

The amendments broaden the scope of the bill by requiring any public body operating a drone to register with the Oregon Dept. of Aviation, and by criminalizing the use of a drone to interfere with another aircraft and hacking into a drone. The amended bill would also  allow property owners to seek damages from anyone operating a drone less than 400 feet above their property.

Senate amendment also make exceptions more explicit, allowing police to use drones if they have “probable cause to believe that a crime committed at the time the drone is used and exigent circumstances exist that make reasonable for the law enforcement agency to obtain a warrant authorizing use, or if the law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe that the targeted intends to commit a crime and circumstances exist that prevent the law enforcement acquiring a warrant, authorizing use of a drone, before the time at which enforcement agency believes the crime will be committed.” Police could also use drones to track an individual fleeing the scene of a crime.

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