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Published on Friday, February 14, 2014

Law and justice bills on drones, fire authority and 911 records survive the fiscal cut-off

Unmanned aircraft and extraordinary sensing devices, all commonly known as drones, have been the focus of quite a bit of attention by the legislature. They are responding to fears that use of drones could invade privacy. Three bills related to this topic are still moving through the legislature.

SHB 1771 requires public agencies get approval before obtaining a drone device. In other words, a police department would need the city’s approval before obtaining a drone. It also allows disclosure of information gathered by the device if a party has a warrant or in cases of an emergency. Waiting for action in House Rules.

HB 2179 would prohibit the use of these devices unless the jurisdiction had a warrant. It also requires jurisdictions to audit the use of these devices and report to the Washington State Patrol. Law enforcement has concerns about the restrictions of using this technology. A substitute version has been introduced and will be addressed when the bill is pulled to the floor. Waiting for a vote by the full House.

SSB 6172 also places additional restrictions on the use of these devices and requires reporting on the use of drones to the Chief Justice and Chief of the State Patrol who will then report to the Legislature. It also requires local jurisdictions to adopt specific ordinances about the use of the devices and provide annual audits of any operations. Law enforcement continues to work on their concerns with the bill sponsor. Waiting for a vote by the full Senate.

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