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 Contraband, Congressman Asks FAA to Stop Drone Interference with Emergency Response, General Assembly Passes Drone Bill With Study Amendment, and Federal Regulators Speed Approvals of Commercial Drone Use.