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Minnesota lawmakers talk about drone regulation

Minnesota lawmakers talk about drone regulation

Bills have been discussed in committees in both the House and Senate.

Minnesota’s drone operators could face stricter regulation under a bill that was approved last week by the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee.

HF 3517 proposes to step up state oversight of the unmanned airborne devices by limiting where they can be flown and requiring commercial drone operators to register with the state and pay an annual fee for the first time.

Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker) sponsored the bill. A companion bill, SF 3312, was sponsored by Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) and was awaiting action by the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

Minnesota lawmakers talk about drone regulation

As reported by the House of Representatives’ Session Daily, privacy and safety concerns continue to grow regarding the technology. Currently, all drone operators are required to register with the Federal Aviation Administration. Thus far, more than 400,000 have signed up.

Under current law, commercial operators must register with MnDOT and pay a one-time fee. Those operators would pay a $25 annual fee under the bill.

The proposed legislation would make it a misdemeanor to operate drones in certain ways, including:

• without the aircraft owner’s consent

• within one mile — knowingly — of a helicopter being operated by a law enforcement agency, fire department or emergency medical service provider

• with a willful disregard for safety

• while carrying banned explosives

• launching or landing on property without the property owner’s consent

• interfering with manned aircraft

Under the bill, a second or subsequent violation would be considered a gross misdemeanor.

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