State Rep. defers bill restricting drone use

Stricter rules have been proposed for flying drones in Arkansas. Representative Justin Harris (R-81) filed HB 1079, which would make flying an unmanned aircraft over private property and taking pictures a Class C misdemeanor if that person possesses images or a Class B misdemeanor if that person distributes those images. Robert Davis of Arkansas Aerials saw the bill and said his knee jerk reaction would be similar to what the FAA is trying to do - take away his ability to freely fly his drone. Davis makes his living through Arkansas Aerials. Instead of selling raw drone video, he sells finished "packages" including drone video. He's been in business for the past three years. A day after seeing the purposed bill, Davis said he agrees with Representative Harris about regulating drone use but would like to be part of the amending process for House Bill 1079. "It can be a lethal vehicle, and there needs to be some kind of laws in place to so people how are operating these thing know what they're doing," said Davis. On Friday, Representative Harris deferred the bill to meet with drone users, the Attorney General and others in the future. Harris said his intention is not to stop drones from flying at all. The bill makes provisions where the law would not criminalize the flying of a drone, such as if the drone operator was given consent to fly over private property. The bill also makes a provision for a drone to be used by law enforcement and search and rescue. It also makes it allowable to fly a drone in a public place, "without magnification or other enhancement and from no more than six feet (6') above ground level in a public place; or on real property that was public." Harris said the bill will likely have some amendments, because he doesn't want unintended consequences, like stopping journalists from flying drones. He said he wants to seek the attorney general's opinion before it's ever passed.