The NCSL Blog


By Amanda Essex

Many people have likely seen the news stories about unmanned aircraft systems, better known as drones, crashing onto the lawn of the White House, crashing into a chimney of the New York State Capitol, and, more recently, crashing into the Space Needle in Seattle.

DroneSome people might know that drones cannot be operated within 15 miles of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport without specific authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration.

What many people may not know is that there are a handful of states that regulate the operation of drones near state capitol buildings. The Georgia Building Authority prohibits drone operations within 5 miles of the capitol building.

Montana has rules prohibiting recreational use of drones on state grounds. Commercial operation can be allowed with written approval from the FAA and a permit from the General Service Division.

Texas passed legislation in 2015 (HB 3628) that required the development of rules regarding operation around the Capitol Complex. Generally, drones are not allowed to operate in or over state property, including the Capitol Complex, unless advance permission has been received from the State Preservation Board or The Texas Facilities Commission, depending on where the drone is being operated.

Washington state’s Department of Enterprise Services also has adopted rules regarding operations around the Capitol Complex. Arkansas and Michigan also ban drones on capitol grounds.

Do you know of other states that regulate drones near capitols? Let us know!

Amanda Essex is a policy specialist in the transportation and loves to drone on about drone regulation.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.