A House panel has begun reviewing a bill that would create a new state crime for flying a drone over a prison or jail in Iowa.
Representative Jarad Klein of Keota says after drones were caught carrying drugs, phones and weapons into prisons in several other states, it’s time to consider taking action in Iowa.
“Having a tool in the toolbox for the prosecutors — if they can catch them — to give them an additional charge is more what it’s about,” Klein says. “We’re not talking about having the guards in the towers being able to — with sniper rifles — shoot these things down.”
Klein led an effort in 2014 to try to establish state regulations for “unmanned aerial vehicles” — which most of us call drones, but it failed to clear the legislature. Klein says regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration have addressed many of the concerns about drones, but he says it’s worth considering safety-related issues at the state level, including flying a drone over drinking water supplies.
“That’s been one of the things we’ve talked about. Where are the places we need to make sure are fully secured? I mean, the jails, prisons — these are easy ones,” Klein says. “…We do have more infrastructure that we do need to be safeguarding, so that’s one of the things we need to talk about in the subcommittee and see what cities and counties come back and say. ‘We would like you to do something’ or ‘Absolutely not’ — and give us reasons.”
Just this week, New Jersey’s governor signed a law that makes it illegal to fly a drone while intoxicated in New Jersey. Klein says that proposal is not yet on the radar for Iowa lawmakers.