Proposed Mississippi drone laws are extremely problematic for the drone industry – and the Drone Service Providers Alliance (DSP) urges all operators in the state to train themselves and their agents.
If passed, the bills currently on the committee could have a significant impact on Mississippi drone owners and create dangerous precedents for other states.
“If those bills get passed into law by the committee, it can cause Mississippi drone owners to break the law on a daily basis,” said Vic Moss, vice president of the Drone Service Providers Alliance and professional drone operator.
Proposed Mississippi Drone Laws – and Federal Preemption
Senate Act 2262 creates a problem with the federal preliminary ruling, the concept that the FAA controls airspace. The proposed bill “would create a law that would allow landowners to own airspace,” Moss said in a DSP blog post. “Use is one thing, but giving landowners a legitimate interest in the airspace over their land sets some very frightening standards. It literally creates “private airspace”.
The bill would also allow the Mississippi DOT to lease road and waterway easements, potentially granting some parties exclusive use of those routes.
While Moss points out that this bill is unlikely to be passed, he says another House bill may be eliminated from committee – and it’s even more dangerous for the drone industry.
“That’s just silly”
Another proposal, HB 291, has a very real chance of stepping down from the committee. At first glance, the calculation for protecting critical infrastructures seems reasonable – but too many details make this proposal extremely problematic.
Section 3 (a) of the bill would make it unlawful to knowingly use a UAS to “monitor, collect, photograph or electronically record information or data on a critical infrastructure or correctional facility without the prior written consent of the owner. your representative of the critical infrastructure or correctional facility … ”which sounds reasonable; However, the draft law defines critical infrastructure as encompassing 13 separate categories, many of which are too broad – such as “commercial transport vessels operating on inland waterways or oceans”.
Even more worrying are definitions that attempt to cover items not listed and the enumeration of drone applications that are already covered in other laws. Moss writes:
But the list crosses the line from ridiculous to humorous in sections (xii) and (xiii). It states: “Any other facility that is completely enclosed by a fence or physical barrier to prevent intrusion. Any other facility identified by a sign or signs that are put up [posted?] on the property. “Now every cow pasture and every cotton or soybean field in the state of Mississippi is a” critical infrastructure. “That’s just silly.
… Section 3 (b) is certainly a good part of the rule. It is a crime to use a drone to “deliver contraband to a correctional facility or an adjacent property in order to bring contraband to a correctional facility”. Why? Is it legal to do this if you are not using a drone? Why bother to include the delivery vehicle in this law?
A law that tries to further define something already illegal creates problems for lawmakers and law enforcement agencies, Moss points out. “… Every time you add a level of complexity and definition to an existing law, you add a level of gaps. Laws like the introduction of contraband should remain as technologically agnostic as possible. “
To ensure that Mississippi drone laws remain easy to understand and affordable for businesses, the drone industry needs to make sure they are doing their part to educate lawmakers about their concerns and about the potential benefits the drone industry can bring to communities across the state. The Drone Service Providers Alliance has provided the following contact information for assistance.
For the house bill (HB 291), please respectfully contact the representative Nick Bain. His page is http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/house/bain.xml.
For the Senate Draft (SB 2262), please respectfully contact Senator Brice Wiggins. His page is http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/senate/wiggins.xml.
If you are a Mississippi resident, locate and contact your local lawmaker to (again, respectfully) express your displeasure with the bill. And if you want to go a step further, reach out to the committee members of each chamber that currently holds the bills. All of this information can be found at http://www.legislature.ms.gov/legislators/