Legislature approves MacGregor’s drone bill

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would authorize the use of unmanned aircraft systems, commonly called drones, has been finalized by the Legislature and is on its way to the governor for signature.

“Drones are becoming increasingly popular with hobbyists, but they also have extensive application amongst professionals,” said Sen. Pete MacGregor, R-Rockford. “As their use becomes more prevalent, it is important that Michigan has a definite, uniform framework to regulate drone operation.”

Senate Bill 992, sponsored by MacGregor, would allow individuals licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate drones for commercial and recreational use. However, the proposed law would prohibit drone operation that could interfere with public safety officers; that would infringe on a person’s right to privacy; and that would violate a court order, such as a personal protection order. A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and/or a $500 fine would be established for violating the restrictions.

The bill would also create the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force to develop a uniform statewide policy recommendation on the operation, use, and regulation of drones in Michigan. The 27-member panel would be composed of individuals from various industries and appointed by the governor. It would be charged with producing an initial report within three months to the governor and the Transportation committees in the Senate and House.

“The goal with the task force is to adopt regulations that are in step with those in development by the FAA to ensure a uniform statewide policy,” MacGregor said. “This is a better approach as opposed to a patchwork system of laws — it’s one that strikes a balance between ensuring public safety and property rights and the public’s right to own and operate drones.”