LEGISLATURE

Drone bill heads to Gov. Scott’s desk without opposition

 

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

A bill that would limit how law enforcement uses unmanned drones for surveillance is headed to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, who says he’ll sign it into law.

SB 92, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, bans local law enforcement officials from using drones without a warrant or threat of a terrorist attack and prohibits information collected by drones to be used as evidence in court. It passed the House 117-0 on Wednesday, after passing the Senate unanimously a week ago.

“Privacy should be protected and I applaud the House for unanimously passing this bill today,” Scott said in a statement. “This law will ensure the rights of Florida families are protected from the unwarranted use of drones and other unmanned aircraft. I look forward to signing it when it reaches my desk.”

Negron’s bill is similar to legislation filed in Congress by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who filibustered the confirmation of CIA director John Brennan over the potential of U.S. drone attacks on Americans.

Drones, or unmanned flying aircraft, range in size from 6 inches to 246 feet and weigh between 4 ounces and 25,600 pounds, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates their use in the United States. They can be outfitted with cameras so powerful that they can track objects 65 miles away.

This year’s legislation by Negron and House sponsor Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, was popular with both Democrats and Republicans, but it’s not clear what, if any, affect it will have on how law enforcement uses drones.

In Florida, the Miami-Dade Police Department became the first major metro police agency to get permission to operate drones two years ago.

Sheriff’s deputies in Orange County also have approval to operate two drones. As does Polk County, though the sheriff’s office there grounded the program, citing costs. But to actually use them requires so many approvals from the FAA that they rarely get flown.

Negron said he knows the current laws and policies make it difficult to fly drones.

He said he’s more concerned about future regulations that might relax the rules.

Read more Florida stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category