Three years after it was tasked with developing a set of rules for commercial drone operators, the federal government still has not finalized drone regulations, instead doling out more than 1,000 exemptions to allow businesses to fly drones in the meantime.
Tired of waiting on Washington, states are moving to develop their own drone rules. But many of the laws that states are proposing and passing may end up conflicting with what the federal government eventually comes up with.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the past two years have seen 26 states pass legislation concerning drones. The laws range widely in their treatment of drones, from the mildly limiting to the extremely restrictive.
On one end of the spectrum is California, a state often at the vanguard of developing civil-liberties and consumer-protection rules. California's state legislature last week sent a bill to the governor that would make it illegal to fly a drone within 350 feet of the ground over private property without consent, a rule opposed by technology companies such as Amazon and Google, which have plans for delivering goods and Internet access by drone.
But most of the state-passed drone laws to date have been less restrictive. Some states looking to create privacy safeguards have taken smaller steps toward fighting drone-equipped peeping Toms. Other states target specific industries or use-cases: Louisiana's drone law concerns agriculture, while Tennessee's governs drone flights over prisons. And a handful of states have passed legislation to outlaw using drones for hunting or interfering with hunters.