Status of Domestic Drone Legislation in the States

Final update to this chart 1/22/14. Status of 2014 legislation is available here.

We’re currently seeing an unprecedented surge of activity in state legislatures across the country aimed at regulating domestic surveillance drones. (My colleagues Jay Stanley and Catherine Crump have this recent piece detailing the trend.)  Working closely with our lobbyists in state capitols around the country, we have been tracking this activity and working hard to make sure these privacy-protective bills become law. The chart below shows the current status of state legislation as we understand it. We will update this as we receive new information.

With the exceptions noted below, almost all of the bills we’re seeing require law enforcement to get a probable cause warrant before using a drone in an investigation.  If you see your state listed below (unless you live in Arizona), call your legislators and urge them to support privacy-protective drones legislation.

(See here for an analysis of the content of drone legislation throughout the nation.)

Legislation proposed in 43 states and enacted in 9 states

(Update: The 2013 state legislative sessions have drawn to a close. This chart represents a snapshot of the 2013 state legislative action on drones. Many of the bills listed below have been 'carried over' into 2014, and the work to legislate privacy protections for law enforcement use of drones continues. Stay tuned.)

State

Status

Notes

Alabama Passed Senate committee; legislature adjourned without further action  
Alaska Resolution adopted creating drone task force; legislature adjourned without further action Task force is to recommend drone policies and legislation
Arizona Passed House; legislature adjourned without further action  
Arkansas Legislature adjourned without taking up proposed legislation  
California Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Florida Legislation enacted, goes into effect July 1, 2013.  
Georgia Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action Resolutions honoring the aerospace/drones industry also passed in both houses.
Hawaii Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Idaho Legislation enacted, goes into effect July 1, 2013  
Illinois Legislation enacted, goes into effect Jan. 1 2014  
Indiana “Study group” resolution passed Senate committee; bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Iowa Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Kansas Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Kentucky Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action, but interim study hearing on drones held Aug. 21.  
Maine Passed both chambers, VETOED by governor  
Maryland Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Massachusetts Introduced  
Michigan Introduced  
Minnesota Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Missouri Passed House; legislature adjourned without further action  
Montana Legislation enacted, goes into effect Oct. 1, 2013  
Nebraska Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Nevada Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
New Hampshire Dead for this year Passed House committee; tabled in House.
New Jersey Passed Senate; passed committee in Assembly Pocket vetoed (governor did not sign the bill before the deadline)
New Mexico Died in committee  
New York Introduced  
North Carolina Two-year moratorium enacted (PDF, p. 41).  
North Dakota Dead for this year Passed House, defeated in Senate.
Ohio Introduced  
Oklahoma Dead for this year Bill held over until next session; interim study hearing on drone privacy issues to be held Sept. 26
Oregon Legislation enacted  
Pennsylvania Introduced  
Rhode Island Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
South Carolina Passed House Committee; legislature adjourned without further action  
Tennessee Legislation enacted, goes into effect July 1  
Texas Legislation enacted, goes into effect Sept. 1  
Vermont Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Virginia Legislation enacted, goes into effect July 1, 2013.  
Washington Not brought up for full House vote before deadline, so dead for this session.  
West Virginia Bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action  
Wisconsin Introduced Legislature adjourned but legislation will carry over into 2014.
Wyoming Died in committee  

 

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Anonymous

It's not like drones are going to take over the skies. If you are a criminal then you've forfeited your rights. If you are a celebrity then it goes with the territory. My main concern is the elimination of an industry which would primarily be used for professional production, police and hobbyists.

Solution: require licenses, registration and insurance to operate. Then you eliminate the average users and know who is operating aircraft while protecting the innocent.

Anonymous

Privacy laws by the States are all different and the New Health Care Law has no privacy protection for all personal information... Where is the American Cival Liberties on this privacy??? Do you really believe it States
will stop Government on Privacy???

Anonymous

Colorado is missing on this list.

Anonymous

Why is colorado not on this list?

Anonymous

I would like for someone, anyone, to explain to me step by step how you would actually go about surveilling someone with a drone and what you would actually expect to get from your efforts when you were done. Just supposing that you would fly around and get some pictures doesn't do it. The devil is in the details, friends, and it isn't that easy at all to accomplish anything worth having. Think about how you would do that, then follow through with the practicalities that are really involved.

Anonymous

Surveilling people with drones is not as technically feasible as everyone assumes.

Anonymous

Much to the surprise of many legislators, the North Carolina "moratorium" does not cover the State itself. A line inserted into the budget gives the Governor's "Chief Information Officer (CIO)" the authority to issue permits, with FAA approval, to specific testing sites. These sites have been conducting tests of UAVs, under a $2.5 million NCDOT-funded program.

The current CIO's previous job was a high-ranking position at Booz Allen Hamilton. Ring a bell? And one of the sites he personally approved belongs to the company formerly known as Blackwater.

The NC House committee looking at new UAV legislation is packed with ALEC members, and co-chaired by a VP of a company that develops UAV tech for the military. One of the other members is an ALEC Board member and chair of ALEC's International Relations Task Force, whose National Security Subcommittee met with new aerospace corporate sponsors in August to develop model UAV legislation to ship out to the states.

Suffice to say, we are not excited about where this is headed. I hope more national attention comes to our state on this issue, because you might find we are setting an ugly precedent for the rest of the country.

Anonymous

where the people fear the government you have tyranny : where the government fears the people you have Liberty.
More control over the sheep that need watching 24/7 . wake up and smell the end of Freedom and the begining of a police state. . Preventive Justice = More control over the sheep .

Anonymous

Can you have freedom if you do not have privacy?

Anonymous

The drone aircrafts is currently being used here in the state of Maryland on citizens. I would like for someone to explain to me why I am been followed 24/7 with this aircrafts and these aircraft pilots are using some kind of devices from the aircraft to stimulate me inside the building. It is very painful. We have witnesses but the police will not do anything because it is one of their own that is committing this serious crimes.

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