On January 26, 2015, California Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced a short, simple bill to the State Senate. S.B. 142, which was vetoed earlier this month by California Governor Jerry Brown after passing comfortably in the state legislature, sought to restrict the recreational and commercial use of drones over private property. While it was by no means the first bill that proposed to place limits on the use of drones in domestic airspace, if successful, S.B. 142 would certainly have been among the most impactful. California is home to a rapidly expanding commercial drone industry; 3D Robotics, a large commercial drone manufacturer, is based in in Berkeley, and Silicon Valley has seen in recent years the emergence of a variety of drone-based startups developing both software and hardware for commercial and personal use.
The rise and fall of S.B. 142 provides an insight into the way in which state legislatures, concerned about the consequences of expanding domestic drone use for safety and privacy, and unconvinced by the FAA’s efforts to create regulations for drone use, are taking matters into their own hands. It also provides a glimpse at the efforts of the commercial drone industry, which is concerned about the potential of such bills to hinder business growth, to steer states away from restrictive legislation. Here’s what you need to know.
Excellent behind the scenes narrative.