We previously wrote about the Drone Federalism Act introduced earlier this month, and now, another bill is seeking to regulate drones at the local level. The Drone Innovation Act, H.R. 2930, introduced by Jason Lewis of Minnesota, addresses the operation of drones below 200 feet in altitude “within the lateral boundaries of a state, local or tribal government’s jurisdiction.” While the proposed bill recognizes that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “retains control over the national airspace” it also directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to “work with state and local officials to develop a framework for local operation…to encourage innovation and protect privacy.” In a press release issued by Lewis, he says “America continues to lead the world in technological advances. It’s clear to me that drones have a growing role to play in interstate commerce, and that’s vital to maintaining our economic strength at home and competitiveness on the world stage. The Drone Innovation Act will promote that spirit of invention by establishing a clear framework for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems. Importantly, my legislation also lays out clear protections for your right to privacy and gives local governments the primary responsivity in forming guidelines for how drones can be used in our communities.” The bill summarizes a framework for establishing these guidelines, which includes:

  • Helping to harmonize and standardize reasonable time, manner and place limitations and restrictions across the nation;
  • T, drones; and
  • Aiding states in the adoption of drone traffic management systems and making limitations publicly available to all users.

The bill, however, would not limit or interfere with first responders’ drone operations or prevent the FAA from issuing Temporary Flight Restrictions or from “pursuing actions against unsafe UAS operators.” We will follow this legislation as well and keep a handle on which bill (if any) leads the way for localization of drone regulations.