The Iowa House has passed a bill that would establish state-level regulations for “unmanned aerial vehicles” — most of us call them drones. Representative Jarad Klein, a Republican from Keota, said people are “very rightfully concerned” about individuals and government agencies using drones.
“These are very inexpensive, can get very low to the ground and there’s a great chance for abuse,” Klein sids, “and that’s what we recognize here.”
The bill would ban the flying of drones over private property to record video or pictures, unless the property owner permits it.
“Whether we’re talking about harassing, bullying or just your own private property rights,” Klein said. “That’s what we’re trying to assert.”
The bill passed on a bipartisan, 87-to-12 vote. Representative Phyllis Thede, a Democrat from Davenport, said legislators don’t know enough about drones and how they operate to make these kind of rules.
“I don’t want to make a decision based on a feeling,” she said. “That’s what this is. It’s a feeling and if we’re basing it on that, I think that lands us into some trouble.”
Representative Art Staed, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, called the bill an over-reach.
“I’m not sure for what reason. There may be a fear involved here…Maybe we should think about robots,” he said. “I’m very, very afraid of robots and after watching Ironman and the Stark Industries and so on, I think maybe there should be a bill in this House to deal with the robot issue.”
But other Democrats cited concerns drones could be used by stalkers and they praised the bill’s intent. House Democratic Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown voted for the bill.
“But I do think that it’s a work in progress and good for protecting personal safety,” Smith said.
The bill would let law enforcement and state agencies use drones to search for criminal suspects or monitor traffic conditions, but any state agency would have to get permission from the legislature to buy a drone if the bill becomes law. Klein called the bill a “first stab” at addressing an evolving technology.
“In five or 10 years, the public may be very comfortable with government entities owning and using these things and we may be able to go in and remove that aspect so that they don’t have to get permission anymore because we’re not as concerned,” Klein said. “But right now our constituents, my constituents are concerned about what is the government doing with them, what do you intend to do with them and then what (do) other individuals get to do.”
However, a key senator working on the issue says the chances are “pretty slim” both the House and Senate will agree this year on what regulations are needed for drones.