The Rhode Island State House has passed legislation that aims to give the state, through the Rhode Island Airport Corp., the exclusive legal authority to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Sponsored by Rep. Stephen R. Ucci and co-sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese, the goal of the bill is to ensure a single, statewide set of UAV rules, rather than a patchwork of local ordinances, says the House.
“Drones are already here in Rhode Island, and our laws need to reflect their presence. The Airport Corp. should be empowered to make sure that they are used safely so they don’t interfere with other air traffic and to develop rules so that they aren’t used to violate Rhode Islanders’ privacy,” says Ucci.
The legislation was recommended by a House study commission that discussed how the state should regulate the technology. Ucci and Corvese served on the commission and sponsored the bill last year that established it.
“There may be all kinds of things that drones could be doing for people in the near future, quickly and efficiently. But the bottom line right now is that there needs to be a clear set of rules that users understand and that protect the privacy of our citizens. The use of drones is only going to expand, so we should make sure that they are being used safely and responsibly,” adds Corvese.
The legislation will now go to the state Senate. Other co-sponsors include Rep. Thomas Winfield, Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. and Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian.