Montana Senate and Virginia House Pass Anti-Drone Measures

By on February 8, 2013

by Ali Papademetriou

SLN reported just this week that a House panel passed HB2010, a Virginia bill that would limit domestic drone surveillance use, with a 9 to 4 marginal vote on Monday. Sponsored by Delegate Benjamin L. Cline, the bill also gained support from the Senate Courts of Justice.

As was reported by, the legislation, which would place a two-year deferment on drone use by state or local law enforcements, also passed the Virginia House on Monday, 83 to 16. The House did neglect to pass an even more stringent bill regarding limiting drone use, HB1616, one that would have vindicated drone use only with the permission of the General Assembly or local governing body, with of course a warrant.

Tenth Amendment Center’s communications director, Mike Maharrey, commented, “I’m disappointed that the Virginia House didn’t move forward with the stronger bill, but I’m glad they have passed a measure that will slow the roll on domestic drone deployment.”

In addition, the liberty advocate went on to optimistically explain, “The overwhelming support of this bill indicates Virginia lawmakers are serious about considering the civil liberty implications of using unmanned spy-planes to watch over their constituents. Hopefully, they will use the time during the two-year moratorium to develop strong measures that will keep drones out of Virginia airspace – assuming the Senate passes the bill.

Drones in general, whether armed or used solely for surveillance, have sparked much controversy lately. Here at home, government officials argue that spying on American citizens through UAVs is an efficient way to gather criminal evidence, while liberty advocates argue that government ability to spy on citizens, especially without a warrant, is a complete encroachment on the people’s Fourth Amendment.

SLN has also recently reported on lawmakers from three different states, MissouriNorth Dakota, and Indiana, who have introduced legislations that would either require a warrant in order to use unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone surveillance, or nullify drone use.

Now, in addition to the House passing Virginia’s similar measure, Montana is moving in a comparable direction. On Tuesday, the Montana Senate passed SB150, which was introduced in January by Senator Robyn Driscoll, by a 32 to 17 margin.

The legislation would deem evidence collected through drone surveillance irrelevant in a criminal hearing, which definitely wiped the smiles off of the government officials’ faces that argue that drone use is necessary to collect criminal evidence. Also, the bill would disable anyone from owning a drone with any weapons attached.

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