States Adopt Drone Usage Laws, Feds in Midst of Regulatory Process

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Con­fer­ence of State Le­gis­latures, the past two years have seen 26 states pass le­gis­la­tion con­cern­ing drones, as reported in Route Fifty. The laws range widely in their treat­ment of drones, from the mildly lim­it­ing to the ex­tremely re­strict­ive, the article describes.

Maryland is one of the states that recently passed legislation on drones. Maryland’s new law does not restrict drone usage, however. The new law intends to encourage drone industry experimentation in Maryland by prohibiting any local regulation of drone usage, establishing the state as the entity able to do so. MACo opposed the legislation, pointing out that the FAA considered local law enforcement to be a needed partner in policing drone activity. Recent events in Maryland have highlighted the need for that partnership.

The Federal Aviation Administration will regulate safety aspect of drones (which they call “UAS,” unmanned aircraft systems), and the increasing amount of drone use could expedite the federal regulatory process.  At this point, the federal regulations are still in draft form. As described by Route Fifty,

The main over­seer of the na­tion’s air­space, the Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion, is in charge of study­ing safety as­pects of com­mer­cial drone flights and is fi­nal­iz­ing a set of safety rules for com­mer­cial users. A draft of its pro­posed rules was an­nounced in Feb­ru­ary, and FAA of­fi­cials have said they ex­pect to be fin­ished by mid-2016.

For more information, see our previous posts, Drone Intercepted Near Maryland Prison, Plot to Smuggle ContrabandCongressman Asks FAA to Stop Drone Interference with Emergency ResponseGeneral Assembly Passes Drone Bill With Study Amendment, and Federal Regulators Speed Approvals of Commercial Drone Use.