Montana, Virginia legislatures pass anti-drone bills

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Helena, MT, United States (4E) – The Montana Senate and Virginia General Asssembly have passed separate bills curtailing the use of unmanned drones by state and local law enforcement agencies.

Senate Bill (SB) 150 introduced by Montana Sen. Robyn Driscoll (D-Billings) was approved via a 32-17 vote on Tuesday and will move on to the state’s House of Representatives for approval.

The passage of SB 150, which also makes evidence gathered by a drone inadmissible in criminal proceedings, came the same day the Virginia House voted 83-16 to pass House Bill 2012, which imposes a two-year moratorium on the use of unmanned aircraft by any state or local law enforcement agency.

Delegate Benjamin Cline (R-Amherst) authored the bill that incorporates provisions of a version by Delegate C. Todd Gilbert. Gilbert’s HB 1616 bans Virginia’s law enforcement agencies from procuring a drone aircraft without the approval of the state General Assembly or the local governing body, and required a warrant for their use.

Anti-drone legislations in other states are reportedly also being considered to protect privacy rights of citizens as police departments plan to use the technology in crime prevention and the Federal Aviation Administration issued guidelines for its non-military use.

In North Dakota, HB 1373, which bans police from using unarmed or armed drones in surveillance, is pending approval in the state’s House of Representatives. Reps. Becker, Anderson, Beadle, Heilman, Hofstad, Monson, Rohr, Toman, Hanson and Sen. Sitte introduced the bill on Jan. 21 and is now with the House Judiciary Committee.

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