The most publicized of the three laws would have prohibited non-commercial drones from flying over wildfires or other emergencies. The law would have imposed serious penalties, including fines of up to $5,000 and prison sentences of up to six months. Additionally, the proposed legislation would have provided immunity from liability for any damage done to drones knocked down by emergency responders with signal-jamming technology. The other two proposed pieces of legislation would have prohibited flight over K-12 schools without prior permission from school administrators, and drone flight over prisons.
The laws, proposed by State Senator Ted Gaines, a Republican from Rocklin CA, followed complaints from the CA State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection about drones over wildfires. Drones flown by hobbyists have reportedly been responsible for temporarily grounding helicopters or air tankers engaged in rescue efforts during California’s recent wildfire season. The public education campaign released in California earlier this year, with the message “If you fly, we can’t,” was designed in response to reports of drone interference.
Governor Brown rejected the proposed legislation definitively. “Each of these bills creates a new crime – usually by finding and novel way to characterize and criminalize conduct that is already proscribed,” the Governor’s veto statement, released Saturday, stated. “This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit.”
Ted Gaines responded to the veto via Twitter:
“Disappointed @JerryBrownGov chose to veto my drone bills. Our laws must keep up with growing drone tech or else all our safety is at risk.”
“How will @JerryBrownGov #SB168 veto look when drone puts the next public safety officer’s life at risk? Or when next air tanker is grounded?”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.