NCSL Foundation Partnership Project on Unmanned Aircraft Systems


UAS Foundation Partnership

DroneThe NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures has completed an exciting partnership project on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Through this project, lawmakers and legislative staff had a unique opportunity to work with industry leaders, researchers and safety experts as they discussed UAS state and federal legislative policy topics and learned about the myriad UAS uses for private businesses and governments.

By creating specialized educational resources and facilitating candid discussions between state policymakers, industry leaders and end-users, this project worked to identify options for maximizing the benefits of UAS while also addressing privacy, safety and 4th Amendment concerns. As the Federal Aviation Administration works to integrate UAS into American airspace, state policymakers and their constituents are working to tap the potential of UAS for public and private applications. NCSL’s unmanned aircraft systems partnership is an important step in informing those efforts.

Since 2013, every state has considered legislation addressing UAS, with 35 states enacting new laws. Six FAA test sites now have been selected involving 11 states, creating collaborative opportunities for businesses, universities and public agencies. During this time of intense legislative focus and industry activity, this project provides needed and open dialogue among state lawmakers, industry leaders and other interested stakeholders and provides state legislatures with critical information as they consider UAS state policies. 

A Steering Committee of state legislators, legislative staff and participating foundation partners worked to discuss and develop policy issues and options related to use of UAS for agriculture, insurance, natural resource management, law enforcement and a variety of purposes, with consideration for privacy, safety, business and economic interests and concerns.

A breakfast session on UAS was convened at the 2015 Legislative Summit in Seattle. A pre-conference was convened at the Capitol Forum in Washington, D.C., in December 2015. NCSL staff prepared and published a final partners’ project report on the UAS legislative landscape, Taking Off: State Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policies.

Steering Committee legislators, legislative staff and private partners advised on topics and content of this overview of state policy issues related to the developing field of unmanned aircraft systems for private and government uses.  The report provides state policymakers with a resource on state legislative UAS action that provides balanced perspectives on industry and economics, standards, law enforcement, privacy and related issues. The report was released in June 2016.

Steering Committee Members


  • Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Ill.)
  • Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Alaska)


  • Assemblyman Elliot Anderson (D-Nev.)
  • Rep. Jeff Essmann (R-Mont.)
  • Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-N.D.)
  • Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.)
  • Rep. Angus McKelvey (D-Hawaii)
  • Rep. Jimmy Pruett (R-Ga.)
  • Rep. Sharon Schwartz (R-Kan.)
  • Rep. Kenneth Wilson (R-Mo.)

Legislative Staff Members

  • Eric Gray, Connecticut Office of Program Review and Investigations
  • Jennifer Jones, Texas Sunset Advisory Board

Private Partners

  • Amazon
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Best Buy
  • Consumer Technology Association
  • Google
  • State Farm

Additional Resources