A bill that would establish a process for federal, state and local governments to work together to manage the use of recreational and commercial drones was recently introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports, as many as four million drones are expected to be in use by 2020. In total, the FAA has registered more than 750,000 drone operators and only 200,000-manned aircraft operators in the United States.
The bill, titled the Drone Federalism Act, aims to create a flexible framework for collaboration between various government entities. To accomplish this, the legislation recognizes the FAA’s general authority over the nation’s airspace and preserves the right for state and local governments to issue reasonable restrictions on the time and areas of operations for drone use.
In addition, the act reaffirms that the federal government will respect private property rights to the airspace immediately above a person’s property, which includes the first 200 feet. The bill also promotes cooperation between various levels of government by directing the FAA to partner with a diverse group of cities to test different approaches and report best practices.
“This bill will return power to regulate everyday drone use to the proper level, states and local communities,” Cotton said. “By passing this legislation, we will protect private property rights and allow local communities to tailor drone rules to their specific needs.”