Wyoming Liberty Group
In the 2015 Wyoming General Session, a bill to limit use of drones—or unmanned aerial surveillance—by the law enforcement failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee after passing the House. The bill was sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Committee following the 2014-15 interim, but underwent amendments on its journey through the legislature that ultimately kept it from going before the Senate. In its original format, the bill would have required police to get a warrant before using drones to conduct searches in criminal investigations. The bill was not considered in the recent 2016 Budget Session, but the topic is certainly not going away.
House Bill 18 – the Drone Protection Act – died this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 2-3. The bill was a committee bill, considered by the Joint Judiciary Committee (that is, the Senate and House committees together) in the interim between the 2014 and 2015 legislative sessions. The bill passed the House 41-19, but had House committee and additional floor amendments that raised concerns in the Senate Judiciary.
With Christmas around the corner, many will be hoping for new golf sets or hunting accessories under their tree. Residents of Maryland will be getting a new “gift” from the federal government—a giant blimp.
In what seems more appropriate for a dystopian novel, Marylanders will be seeing a giant hovering blimp between Washington, DC and Baltimore. Giant hardly captures it; this blimp occupies as much space as 3,500 elephants. Why a giant blimp? Its job is surveillance from all points Northeast to Texas. Talk about eyes in the sky.
CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Liberty Group published its latest Liberty Brief today, “Downing the Drones? Limiting Law Enforcement Use of Unmanned Aerial Surveillance in Wyoming.” The brief, authored by WyLiberty staff attorney Steve Klein, discusses current protections against drone surveillance and suggest reforms that the Wyoming Legislature may adopt into state law.
RAWLINS, WY – Wyoming Liberty Group provided information to the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee as it considered legislation that would regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles-commonly known as drones-by law enforcement agencies.
“Drones are quickly becoming smaller, more efficient, cheaper and common,” said Steve Klein, WyLiberty staff attorney. “Despite this, courts treat them just like manned airplanes when they’re used for surveillance, meaning police do not need to get a warrant before using them. The Judiciary Committee should adopt a committee bill that would fix this by requiring a warrant for most investigations using drones.”
Next month (May 12 and 13) the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee will meet in Rawlins in the first of three meetings between the 2014 and 2015 legislative sessions. One of the topics they will address is drones, more technically known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). I appreciate the committee taking this up, since bills addressing law enforcement use of drones were introduced in our legislature in both this past session and the 2013 session.