From: Ajai Dittmar~https://cedarrapidsactivist.wordpress.com/ [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 1:40 PM
To: Hogg, Rob [LEGIS]
Where do you stand on the drone issue? We don’t want any drones over us!
Wed, Mar 6, 2013 3:16 pm
From Hogg, Rob [LEGIS] [LEGIS] Rob.Hogg@legis.iowa.govhide details
Thank you for your email regarding Senate File 276, a bill about the use of drones over Iowa. I appreciate hearing from you. I apologize for sending you a standard form response, but due to the volume of emails I have received on this issue, it is necessary.
I personally support regulation of drones that strictly limits their use and imposes meaningful safeguards on any use. Unfortunately, SF276 is a poorly drafted bill that would actually allow widespread use of drones now, and unlimited use of drones beginning July 1, 2015. You can review the bill in the “bill book” at http://www.legis.iowa.gov.
Here are several specific problems with the bill:
1. The bill, as drafted, has no penalty for the illegal use of “unmanned aircraft systems.”
2. The bill, as drafted, does not state which agency would be responsible for enforcing regulations on “unmanned aircraft systems.”
3. The term “unmanned aircraft system” is not defined. Iowa has never had any drone regulations, so the bill would leave it up to an unspecified agency or the courts to define what “unmanned aircraft system” includes.
4. The bill, as drafted, only applies to unspecified state agencies and agencies of political subdivisions with “jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement.” This would clearly not cover drone use by individuals, businesses, or state agencies like the department of natural resources, the department of transportation, the department of human services, or the department of public defense. By implication, those uses would be allowed.
5. The bill, as drafted, expressly allows the use of “unmanned aircraft systems” for disaster situations, amber alerts, and search-and-rescue operations, and by implication would allow the use of those systems for training for those purposes. The bill, as drafted, would allow agencies to determine for themselves when these situations exist as well as how much training for those situations could be done. Again, if the agency violated the law, there would be no enforcement or penalty.
6. The bill, as drafted, only regulates “unmanned aircraft systems” through July 1, 2015. It is my understanding that drone use for commercial purposes is expected to increase significantly after that date due to changes in federal regulations. It is unclear why the sponsors of SF276 chose to limit the proposed regulation only through July 1, 2015.
I believe passing this bill now would do more harm than good for those who want to limit and regulate drone use in Iowa. I wish advocates had contacted me earlier in the session when there would have been time to draft a proper senate judiciary study bill, but no one contacted me before late last week, and the deadline for bill requests has now passed.
For advocates who want to limit drone use now, the best course is to make sure Governor Branstad does not allow his state agencies – DPS, DNR, DOT, DHS, etc. – to use or encourage drones. For example, his economic development agency encouraged the manufacturing of drones in Iowa with an award of $175,000 in incentives to a drone manufacturer to locate in the state. If you would like to share your concerns about drones with Governor Branstad, you can call his office at 515-281-5211 during work hours.
Finally, to help you get involved in the legislative process so we can actually pass good legislation next year, I want to invite you to attend a public meeting on drones Wednesday morning, March 6, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., in Room 22 behind the Senate chamber at the Capitol to discuss the issue.
I hope to see you there.
State Senator Rob Hogg
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-3371 (switchboard)