The California Assembly has approved legislation clarifying that it is unlawful to operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the conduct of activities already against the law in the state, according to the bill’s authors.
Co-authored by Majority Leader Ian Calderon , D-Whittier, and Assemblymember Evan Low, D-Silicon Valley, A.B.2320 would prohibit the use of UAS to knowingly and intentionally do the following:
- interfere with first-responder law enforcement or emergency personnel at the scene of an emergency;
- introduce contraband into a correctional facility; and
- stalk or harass individuals or violate a restraining order.
In the absence of a complete federal regulatory structure, state and local governments are looking to establish rules for the use of UAS in their communities, say the lawmakers, who acknowledge that the FAA has warned that a “patchwork quilt” of inconsistent regulations could raise substantial safety concerns, impede innovation and make it difficult for consumers to understand the rules for operating UAS. However, Calderon says we cannot wait until the release of the FAA’s final drone rules (even though they’re expected to be released this spring – specifically, before June 17).
“Unmanned aircraft systems provide undeniable benefits and play a transformative role in our society,” says Calderon. “It’s critical we adopt comprehensive policies for UAS integration that preserve individual expectations to privacy and public safety. California has a responsibility to ensure the safety of our citizens, and we cannot afford to wait to until the FAA acts to have these protections in place.”
The bill was first introduced on Feb. 18 and passed the Assembly floor by a 76-0 vote on May 19.