A new year and the start of new state legislative sessions brings a new crop of absurdly broad and unconstitutional proposals to ban FPV / personal drones.

First up this year, Washington state: http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2...Bills/2178.htm


AN ACT Relating to unmanned aircraft; adding a new chapter to Title 14 RCW; prescribing penalties; and declaring an emergency.BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1 The legislature finds that technological developments in unmanned aircraft have expanded the vehicles' capacity to be widely deployed in our state and in our communities. The legislature further finds that the recreational use of certain small unmanned aircraft is exempt from federal regulation under the federal aviation administration modernization and reform act of 2012. The potential for these small unmanned aircraft to be operated in close proximity to human dwellings and activities presents opportunities for widespread recreational use and enjoyment. At the same time, the recreational use of unmanned aircraft increases the likelihood of physical trespass onto private property and invasions of personal privacy. The legislature intends to prohibit the unauthorized use of unmanned aircraft in the airspace above private property.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 2 The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Person" includes any individual, corporation, partnership, association, cooperative, limited liability company, trust, joint venture, or any other legal or commercial entity and any successor, representative, agent, agency, or instrumentality thereof.
(2) "Personal information" means any information that: (a) Describes, locates, or indexes anything about an individual including, but not limited to, his or her social security number, driver's license number, agency-issued identification number, student identification number, real or personal property holdings derived from tax returns, and his or her education, financial transactions, medical history, ancestry, religion, political ideology, or criminal or employment record; or (b) affords a basis for inferring personal characteristics, such as finger and voice prints, photographs, or things done by or to such individual, and the record of his or her presence, registration, or membership in an organization or activity, or admission to an institution.
(3)(a) "Sensing device" means a device capable of acquiring personal information from its surroundings through any means including, but not limited to, cameras, thermal detectors, microphones, chemical detectors, radiation gauges, and wireless receivers in any frequency.
(b) "Sensing device" does not include equipment whose sole function is to provide information directly necessary for safe air navigation or piloting of an unmanned aircraft.

(4) "Unmanned aircraft" means an aircraft that is operated without physical human presence on board the aircraft and operated either:
(a) Pursuant to the exemption for recreational uses established in the special rule for model aircraft of the federal aviation administration modernization and reform act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 Sec. 336, "special rule for model aircraft"); or
(b) Without an experimental airworthiness certificate or other authorization by the federal aviation administration.

(5) "Washington state airspace" means all airspace within the territorial limits of this state that is within class G airspace, outside of five statute miles from any airport, heliport, seaplane base, spaceport, or other location with aviation activities, and not otherwise classified as controlled by the federal aviation administration.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 (1) Except as provided in section 4 of this act, no person may operate in Washington state airspace an unmanned aircraft that is equipped with a sensing device.
(2) A violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 4 The prohibition under section 3 of this act does not apply to the operation of an unmanned aircraft that is equipped with a sensing device if the following conditions are met:
(1) The unmanned aircraft is clearly and conspicuously labeled with the name and contact information of the aircraft's owner and operator; and
(2) The unmanned aircraft is flown in Washington state airspace above private property, and the landowner and any tenants who have a right to occupy the property have consented to the operation after having received actual notice that the aircraft is equipped with a sensing device; or
(3) The unmanned aircraft is flown in the airspace above public lands in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with the rights of others and the operation is not otherwise prohibited by law or rule.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 5 Any person operating an unmanned aircraft in the airspace of this state is liable for all damages that state or local government property may sustain as a result of illegal or negligent operation of the unmanned aircraft. When the operator is not the owner of the unmanned aircraft but is operating or moving it with the express or implied permission of the owner, the owner and the operator are jointly and severally liable for any damage. Damage to any state or local government property may be recovered in a civil action instituted in the name of the state of Washington by the department of transportation or other affected government agency. Any measure of damage determined by the state or local government to its property under this section is prima facie the amount of damage caused thereby and is presumed to be the amount recoverable in any civil action therefor. The damages available under this section include the incident response costs, including traffic control, incurred by the department of transportation or other state or local agency.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 6 Nothing in this chapter may be construed to limit a party's ability to bring an action, including an action for damages, based on rights conferred by other state or federal law.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 7 Sections 1 through 6 of this act constitute a new chapter in Title 14 RCW.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 8 This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately.

As you can see this bill is expressly targeted at hobbyists, while leaving commercial users with FAA authorization completely alone. It bans any RC aircraft from carrying any "sensing device" that is not essential for operation of the aircraft (whatever that means), except over private property where everyone with a property interest below has consented, or over public property.

The bill is authored by:
Rep. Jeff Morris

Olympia Office:
436A Legislative Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7970

The bill's current status is listed here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summ...2178&year=2013

At this time, it has just been pre-filed for introduction, and is not yet assigned to a committee. Once introduced, however, it could very well be assigned to the Technology and Economic Development Committee, of which Morris is the chair, making it much more likely to pass out of committee. Morris is also on the transportation committee, which it could also be assigned to.

I hope Washington FPVers and drone enthusiasts can get on top of this. Start writing and meeting with your state representatives NOW! This bill has the same problems as similar ones last year, namely it is likely preempted by federal law since the FAA (probably) has exclusive jurisdiction over all US airspace, and even if not preempted it likely violates the First Amendment by instituting a blanket ban on amateur aerial photography using unmanned aircraft, while leaving manned aircraft and commercial unmanned aircraft unaffected. The sooner your legislators understand this, the better.

As soon as the bill is assigned to a committee, every personal drone enthusiast in Washington should try to set up meetings with each committee member to explain your concerns with this bill, and make sure to sign up to testify at any committee hearings on it. If it all possible, it is best to kill this sort of thing in committee before it even makes it to the House floor.

The DIY drone community will need to monitor this one closely....

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  • I think you should know that Australia already has legislation for commercial UAV usage. Our governing body CASA have a licensing process for anyone wishing to operate UAVs (termed UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems) for commercial purposes. There are limitings on the size and other parameters of the craft and its operation. 

    As this system already operates I think you could of benefit to contact CASA for feedback.

    (CASA - Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority)

  • HB2178, with the 1st Substitute adopted, passed the third reading in the House.  It has now been reffered for a first reading in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.  I will be writing the Committee Chair to let them know that I, as a UAV operator, appreciate the changes in the adopted substitution, and suggest that the bill pass through the Senate unmolested.

  • United States v. Causby - 328 U.S. 256 (1946)

    This state will be sued in to submission the supreme court already decided this long ago.

  • Wow this is the problem... you think 1. its ok to do this..., and 2 its required, you are well on you way to losing this hobby... You continue trying to sell me on BAN LITE I don't get it. Are you related to one the law makers/ or are you even a hobbyist? With all I know, your an aid in the law makers office... I have had 3 people.. your one of them, that is supporting this Bill/Law by tying to convince me that its all good, You also continue to NOT address ANY of the issues I have pointed out to you. You have the right to support this garbage if you wish to... and others have the right to VOTE There Ass's OUT. You can do it your way, We will do it our way. I have spent far too much time going back and forth with you already as you continue cheerleading this bill as a good or needed.  Its clear to me your going to cooperate with the idiots behind this.You should spend more time learning about the law the courts, as I just retired from a 20 year career in it, and you are WRONG.
    Law Makers right Bills/Laws weather they are legal or NOT all the time, they have no problem wasting America's money and time as they just care about there agenda, when it gets challenged in a Court is when you find out if it will stick or if its even legal. 
    Your other comment
    2. Existing laws dont prevent the goal of the legislation, but I think what you were likely trying to say is that existing laws "already accomplish" the goal of this legislation.
    3. States are given the authority to govern their own airspace in specific instances.  The FAA has excluded, for now at least, the use of recreation UAV's from their regulation.  Some states have decided to pick up where the FAA has left off.  Though I am not a legal expert, I would not bet against a State's authority to regulate portions of their own airspace when the regulation does not conflict at the federal level.

      4. HB2178 does not prohibit flying from, or over, public property.  It also no longer prohibits the operator from flying over private property, even without the owner's permission, as long as the operation of the UAV does not interfere with the landowner's reasonable expectation of privacy.
    You are all over the board to sell this, and of course wrong again, ...   More nonsense from lawyers / lawmakers, they always think they have the right to do what they do. They also have the RIGHT to be VOTED out of office.

    Ron Isaksen, you mentioned that the bill is being reconsidered by the TED committee tomorrow morning at 8AM.  Where are you getting this information?  The schedule for the legistature does not have a record of the committee's intent to meet tomorrow.  The URL that lists the bill's progress does not mention the meeting either.
    I was forwarded the information from business owners, your not the only person looking at this issue I have been in contact with only 3 people going along with this... and your one of them. You are on the wrong side of history with this issue, on the wrong side of business and the wrong side of freedom.
    Is Washington State declaring ownership of the airspace and levying fines and penalties for airspace incursions which belongs to the United States for the purpose of air commerce? P...lease read United States vs Causby - 328 U.S. 256 (1946) http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/328/256/case.html Page 328 U. S. 260 I. The United States relies on the Air Commerce Act of 1926, 44 Stat. 568, 49 U.S.C. § 171 et seq., as amended by the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, 52 Stat. 973, 49 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. Under those statutes, the United States has "complete and exclusive national sovereignty in the air space" over this country. 49 U.S.C. § 176(a). They grant any citizen of the United States "a public right of freedom of transit in air commerce [Footnote 4] through the navigable air space of the United States." 49 U.S.C. § 403. And "navigable air space" is defined as "airspace above the minimum safe altitudes of flight prescribed by the Civil Aeronautics Authority." 49 U.S.C. § 180. And it is provided that "such navigable airspace shall be subject to a public right of freedom of interstate and foreign air navigation." Id. It is therefore argued that, since these flights were within the minimum safe altitudes of flight which had been prescribed, they were an exercise of the declared right of travel through the airspace. The United States concludes that, when flights are made within the navigable airspace without any physical invasion of the property of the landowners, there has been no taking of property. It says that, at most, there was merely incidental damage occurring as a consequence of authorized air navigation. It also argues that the landowner does not own superadjacent airspace which he has not subjected to possession by the erection of structures or other occupancy. Moreover, it is argued that, even if the United States took airspace owned by respondents, no compensable damage was shown. Any damages are said to be merely consequential for which no compensation may be obtained under the Fifth Amendment. It is ancient doctrine that at common law ownership of the land extended to the periphery of the universe -- cujus/  Specail thanks to Doug Walmsley... You Rock
  • I am calm, but not without opinion, I think Patrick did a great job and much thanks to his work posting.  I think it’s great he attended the hearings, and is working with them on that level … That is great, and one approach to this issue…  that is commendable. There once was a time Law Makers would never dare bringing forth stupid legislation, like, the collecting of rain water being made Illegal…, ETC. That was because of things like Shame and public outrage.  I am not sure how standing your ground on the same subject is a conflict with Patrick as we are both about to be victims from the passing of this bill, and we wouldn’t be even discussing this if not for this bill. My verbiage is that of a Washington State voter that is frustrated with law makers creating Bills, Laws and Regulations destroying rights and Jobs.   

    Hissy Fit… No just an American with rights, and while you fight to get support to change the bill as written, there is many people that are offended by the very action of the writing of it period. We all seem to be upset about this bill, but you seem to think a law is needed, this seems to be in conflict with your entire argument.

    I am not Flaming Patrick, not sure how you get to that, considering I do not know him, nor have I ever contacted him. I might add that belittling people on your side of an issue is stupid; I am not an English major so I may be being an utter failure of my ability to convey an idea or thought that doesn't slander/destroy the English language as taught in America.

    Just as you with your elite view of judging people with English; is being an utter failure of your ability to convey an idea or thought that doesn't slander/destroy the American Constitution and Dream.

    Americans have Rights and opinions in this State, and the entire Country regardless  of color, creed, handy cap or even citizens that mess up a sentence or word when frustrated by an out of control government.

     A bill is where the LAW comes from, I am 50 years old, and I do not need a crash course on bills and Laws thank you.  You should really get to know more about people before judging them.

    *I don’t care…I would ask why? If you don't care, then why are you posting?

    Simple you are taking what I said out of context, I said I don’t care about the Law Maker’s intent or not, it’s all bad, and must be stopped either way. You should spend a little more time on the problem and not spend so much time trying to defend the problem makers; I see you have not addressed anything I posted.

    I find if disgraceful that after a couple of years of Pro UAV, Gov. / press gloating UAV colleges, drone development and research in Washington State. Only after to give them a degree to no were, People of the State and even the world are now going to be banned of yet another industry before it could even get off the ground. Law Makers promised to open the sky to drones, nice since the rest of the World is already using them...2015 the skies will open up to someone but it won’t be AMERICA. "LIE’D TOO AGAIN!" …This State touted for the last few years, UAV colleges, drone development and research in Washington State. Only after to give the citizens & students a degree to no were, this is nothing more then, FRAUD to everyone who has invested in these schools, any of the business and even the hobby.

    This should be what is bothering you, not Americans trying to stop it by standing there ground, this Bill / Law is not needed and why you would support any regulation escapes me. You say you are writing the elected officials that are in control of this, it’s the only solution we have as voters.

    That’s ½ Correct the only difference is… I am putting my money were my mouth is, you want to work with them to push any law… even a BAN –LITE.  I am with the voters that are more interested in these law makers being held accountable for even attempting  this attack on the RC Hobby Industry by Voting them out.

    I must assume you have a hobby investment in this industry, That’s Nice…I do not have a hobby investment in this Industry, like most the business in America…you would be wise to speak with the Industry professionals before settling with BAN LITE.

  • Heres a crazy idea, why not ban guns first.

  • My apology Patrick! I should have known better but I was somewhat incensed at the moment from the comments made by Ron. My mouth over-ran my brain. That being said, 'My' local politicians are not supporting the bill as written according to the emails I've received from them. Where this will go is an unknown but I'm hoping for a viable solution that works for all concerned.





  • Thanks Dan, but one correction there. I wrote this post to let people know of the situation, but I have had no other real involvement in this issue. I live in Colorado, so I certainly didn't go testify at the Washington legislature. That was BacklashRC who gave an excellent testimony before the committee, and who has really spearheaded the effort on behalf of Washington FPVers.

  • Ron, would you please be so kind as to settle down? In as much as I hate to say it, your verbage is coming off like a hissy fit. Patrick posted to 'inform' the public and hopefully gain support to squash the bill as it was written. He attended the hearing and put forth info to 'aid' the public (kudos for that effort). To that end, the bill is looking to be modified. But it's an unknown, as far as I'm aware of, as to what may come forth in a re-write. You are utterly in-correct in your comment of, "there is NO reason for this LAW to begin with" because it's NOT a law. Factually, it's a prelude to a bill being passed(possibly) that would make it a law. I fully understand what you are implying but jumping on Patrick serves no purpose what-so-ever. Respective of your comment, "I do not know how you get your foresight of there intent,  but I don’t care intend or otherwise,  there is NO reason for this LAW, Yes it would be another LAW, SO WHAT, just another LAW that’s pointless.", I'm having mixed emotions with it. The foremost being an utter failure of your ability to convey an idea or thought that doesn't slander/destroy the English language as taught in America. 2ndly, your aspect of 'I don't care'!, I would ask why? If you don't care, then why are you posting? Albeit I don't know what you've done to address this issue, I wrote a letter and sent it to my elected officials. Have you done the same? If not, why not? Flaming Patrick is NOT a solution. Writing the elected officials that are in control of this is the only solution we have as voters.



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