Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes controversial California UAS bill

By Patrick C. Miller | September 10, 2015

California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a controversial bill passed by the state’s legislature which was opposed by the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry.

In vetoing Senate Bill 142, Brown said the issues raised by the bill need to be studied more carefully. Although he noted that the legislation was well intentioned, “it could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.”

According to media reports, Google, Amazon and GoPro also lobbied against the bill, which would have created trespass liability for anyone flying a drone less than 350 feet above property without the express permission of the property owner—regardless of whether anyone’s privacy was violated.

Last week, Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Systems International (AUVSI) and Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), issued a statement calling the bill an “unnecessary, innovation-stifling and job-killing proposal.”

Following the veto, Wynne said, “SB 142 was also in direct contradiction with federal law because only the FAA can regulate airspace; states and municipalities cannot. According to the U.S. Code, ‘The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.’”

Wynne said the defeat of the legislation doesn’t remove the urgency for the FAA to finalize its small UAS rules.

“There is much uncertainty about where operators should and shouldn’t fly; until the FAA acts, legislation such as SB 142 will continue to exacerbate this confusion,” he noted. “For the safety of our skies and to ensure that there is no confusion between state and federal law, we need Washington to make finalizing these rules a top priority.”

 

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