State Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) | 2016 Legislation



At least 38 states considered legislation related to UAS in the 2016 legislative session. Eighteen states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin—passed 32 pieces of legislation. 

  • Alaska adopted a resolution supporting the aviation industry and urging the governor to make state land available for use in the development of UAS technology. 
  • Delaware adopted a resolution expressing support for the development of many facets of UAS and the increased economic and training opportunities available within the FAA regulatory framework. 
  • The governors of Georgia and North Dakota issued executive orders related to UAS.

US map showing 2016 state UAS legislation


2016 UAS Legislation
Alaska HB 256 Requests the Department of Fish and Game evaluate the use of UAS for aerial survey work and report findings related to safety and cost-savings compared to manned aircraft.
Arizona SB 1449 Prohibits certain operation of UAS, including operation in violation of FAA regulations and operation that interferes with first responders. The law prohibits operating near, or using UAS to take images of, a critical facility. It also pre-empts any locality from regulating UAS.
California SB 807 Provides immunity for first responders who damage a UAS that was interfering with the first responder while he or she was providing emergency services. 
California AB 1680 Makes it a misdemeanor to interfere with the activities of first responders during an emergency
Delaware HB 195 Creates the crime of unlawful use of an UAS and prohibits operation over any event with more than 1,500 attendees, over critical infrastructure and over an incident where first responders are actively engaged in response or transport. The law also specifies that only the state may enact a law or regulation, preempting the authority of counties and municipalities.
Georgia Executive Order  Created the Commission on Unmanned Aircraft Technology to make state-level rule recommendations to the governor.
Idaho SB 1213 Prohibits the use of UAS for hunting, molesting or locating game animals, game birds and furbearing animals. 
Illinois HB 5808 Expanded the membership of the UAS Oversight Task Force and extended the deadline for the task force to issue a report from July 1, 2016. to July 1, 2017.
Indiana HB 1013 Allows the use of UAS to photograph or take video of a traffic crash site
Indiana HB 1246 Prohibits the use of UAS to scout game during hunting season. 
Kansas SB 319 Expands the definition of harassment in the Protection from Stalking Act to include certain uses of UAS.
Kansas SB 249 Appropriates funds that can be used to focus on research and development efforts related to UAS by state educational institutions. The law specifies a number of focuses for the research, including the use UAS for inspection and surveillance by the Department of Transportation, Highway Patrol and State Bureau of investigation. It requires that the director of UAS make recommendations regarding state laws and rules that balance privacy concerns and the need for “robust UAS economic development” in the state.
Louisiana SB 73 Adds intentionally crossing a police cordon using a drone to the crime of obstructing an officer. Allows law enforcement or fire department personnel to disable the UAS if it endangers the public or an officer's safety
Louisiana HB 19  Prohibits using a drone to conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or take photo or video of a school, school premises, or correctional facilities. Establishes a penalty of a fine of up to $2,000 and up to six months in jail.
Louisiana HB 335 Authorizes the establishment of registration and licensing fees for UAS, with a limit of $100.
Louisiana HB 635 Adds the use of UAS to the crimes of voyeurism, video voyeurism and peeping tom.
Louisiana SB 141 Specifies that surveillance by an unmanned aircraft constitutes criminal trespass under certain circumstances.
Michigan SB 992 Creates the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act. Prohibits localities from regulating UAS, except when the regulated drone belongs to the locality. It specifically permits commercial operation in the state if the operator is authorized by the FAA to operate commercially and permits hobby operation so long as the operator complies with federal law. The law prohibits using a drone in a way that interferes with emergency personnel and it also prohibits the use of a drone to harass an individual, to violate a restraining order, or to capture images in a way that invades an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy. The law also prohibits sex offenders from using a drone to follow, contact or photograph a person that they are prohibited from contacting. Anyone who uses a drone in a prohibited way is guilty of a misdemeanor. The law also creates the unmanned aircraft systems task force to “develop statewide policy recommendations on the operation, use, and regulation” of UAS in the state. It specifies the members of the task force, the length of appointment and other specifics related to the task force.
North Dakota Executive Order Established the Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority to oversee the operation of the UAS test site in the state
Oklahoma HB 2599 Prohibits the operation of UAS within 400 feet of a critical infrastructure facility, as defined in the law. 
Oregon HB 4066 Modifies definitions related UAS and makes it a class A misdemeanor to operate a weaponized UAS. It also creates the offense of reckless interference with an aircraft through certain uses of UAS. The law regulates the use of drones by public bodies, including requiring policies and procedures for the retention of data. It also prohibits the use of UAS near critical infrastructure, including correctional facilities.
Oregon SB 5702 Specifies the fees for registration of public UAS.
Rhode Island HB 7511/SB 3099 Gives exclusive regulatory authority over UAS to the state of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, subject to federal law. 
Tennessee SB 2106 Creates the crime of using a drone to fly within 250 feet of a critical infrastructure facility for the purpose of conducting surveillance or gathering information about the facility.
Tennessee HB 2376 Clarifies that it is permissible for a person to use UAS on behalf of either a public or private institution of higher education, rather than just public institutions. 
Utah HB 126 Makes it a class B misdemeanor to operate a UAS within a certain distance of a wildfire. It becomes a class A misdemeanor if the UAS causes an aircraft fighting the wildfire to drop a payload in the wrong location or to land without dropping the payload. It is a third degree felony if the UAS crashes into a manned aircraft and a second degree if that causes the manned aircraft to crash.
Utah HB 3003 Increases the penalties for offenses related to operating within a certain distance of a wildfire and permits certain law enforcement officers to disable a drone that is flying in a prohibited area near a wildland fire.
Vermont SB 155 Regulates the use of drones by law enforcement and requires law enforcement to annually report on the use of drones by the department. It also prohibits the weaponization of drones.
Virginia HB 412  Prohibits the regulation of UAS by localities.
Virginia HB 29/HB 30 Appropriates funds to Virginia Tech for UAS research and development.
Wisconsin SB 338  Prohibits using a drone to interfere with hunting, fishing or trapping.
Wisconsin AB 670 Prohibits the operation of UAS over correctional facilities.  



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