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Mississippi’s new law: a model for Iowa’s lawmakers

In complete contrast to the proposed Iowa legislation, Mississippi has just passed a very well-written bill, Senate Bill 1246 “Uncrewed Aircraft Systems’ Rights and Authorities Act”, that shows they heeded the advice of industry experts.

Mississippi governor Tate Reeves has signed the Uncrewed Aircraft Systems’ Rights and Authorities Act into law, which codifies that the ultimate authority over the state airspace lies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This law is crucial because it prevents additional burdensome regulations for drone operators. At the same time, it clarifies that violations of property-based legal regimes, such as trespass, do not occur when a drone simply flies overhead.

Read the full story on Drone DJ

The clearly worded bill preserves rights for both recreational and professional drone operators:

  1. An individual, in compliance with federal law, may operate an uncrewed aircraft system for recreational purposes.
  2. An individual or business entity, doing business lawfully within this state and in compliance with Federal law, may operate or use an uncrewed aircraft system for commercial purposes within this state.
  3. An owner of an uncrewed aircraft or uncrewed aircraft system shall not be required to register such aircraft or system beyond what may be required by federal law and regulations.
Mississippi Senate Bill 1246, Section 3

It goes on to limit liability on the drone operator to no more than what they would be charged with had a drone not been involved in an act. In other words, you are not penalized more for using a drone to commit a crime than if you were not using a drone for the same act:

  1. A person is liable for an act or guilty of an offense committed with the aid of an uncrewed aircraft system if the uncrewed aircraft system is under the person’s operation or control and. the activity performed with the aid of the uncrewed aircraft system would have given rise to civil or criminal liability under the laws of this state, if it was performed directly by the person without the aid of an uncrewed aircraft system.
Mississippi Senate Bill 1246, Section 4

After laying out the rights for drone pilots, the law goes on to outline what the state can enforce, which most in the drone industry already know. This has the effect of making it clear for state and local authorities: Basically, the state can provide or prohibit launching, landing, and operating drones on state property.

In an act of understanding preemption, Mississippi goes on to state that municipalities cannot enact or enforce ordinances restricting airspace, ownership, manufacture, licensing, registration, etc. It further prevents them from applying nuisance, voyeurism, harassment, etc. ordinances more strictly with drones, than without. (Section 5:3)

Finally, section 6 explicitly recognizes the exclusive sovereignty of the FAA over the national airspace (defined earlier as “the space above the land and waters of this state”, Section 2a).

With all the overreaching regulations pushed by other states throughout the years, it is refreshing to see that the state of Mississippi understands their role and is looking out for the rights of drone pilots in their state.

Iowans, Let your representatives know what good, common sense, drone regulation looks like! Send this to your representatives – it is drone legislation that should be passed!

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