Taylor’s bipartisan bill to regulate state drone use passes out of committee

Legislation would ensure safeguards, constitutional rights and taxpayer protection

A bill that would establish state safeguards for the purchase and use of public unmanned aircraft systems (PUAS), also known as drones, passed out of the House Public Safety Committee Feb. 21. House Bill 1771, sponsored by Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, now awaits approval from the Washington State House of Representatives.   “This bill is about being proactive and getting in front of the domestic drone issue. Our intent is to fully protect Washington citizens’ constitutional rights and establish taxpayer protections,” said Taylor, who testified for his legislation yesterday. “This bill has strong bipartisan support and I appreciate those who came to the committee hearing to share their views on the issue.”   House Bill 1771 has 19 co-sponsors, including eight Democrats, and support from the American Civil Liberties Union. Under the measure, a state agency would have to get permission from the Legislature before it obtained a PUAS. A local agency would need to get permission from a local governing body. For example, a city police department would need approval from a city council to obtain a drone.   Taylor acknowledges that PUAS can serve a public purpose and is working to address the needs of law enforcement.   “Public safety is a critical responsibility of government and we understand that drones can play a role in law enforcement activities,” said Taylor. “We want a process that allows for these police activities with proper warrants or in an emergency.”   To obtain a criminal warrant to use a drone, law enforcement would be required to petition a judicial officer.   Other states are also considering measures to limit or define drone use amid privacy and government-intrusion concerns.   House Bill 1771 can now move to the floor of the Washington State House of Representatives for a full vote. To watch the committee hearing on the legislation, click here.


Washington State House Republican Communications