The Argument Against Outlawing Drones in Oregon

The unmanned flying vehicles called drones get lots of bad press because of their use in killing people in Afghanistan and other global hotspots. As WW has reported, drones also provide a lot of good jobs in parts of this region that don't have great employment opportunities.

In the current legislative session, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), has introduced a bill that would sharply limit the use of drones in Oregon.

Here's the legislative summary of what the bill would do: It "imposes restrictions on use of drones by private parties and public entities. Creates various crimes for unauthorized use of drones. Punishes by maximum of 20 years' imprisonment, $375,000 fine, or both."

Prozanski's got legitimate concerns about privacy and civil liberties.

But a blogger has also raised concerns that the legislation could also curtail a variety of other uses for drones. 

"What's tragic about Oregon's Senate Bill 71 is that no differentiation is made between machine gun-equipped military drones, and the camera-equipped weather balloons used by grade school science students, or the remote-controlled multirotor aircraft used by filmmakers," the blogger, New York photographer Sam Mallery writes. "The people who will be hurt by legislation like Senate Bill 71 aren't killers, spies and terrorists; they're artists, students, public servants and nerds."

The bill is scheduled for a hearing on March 20 at 8:30 am.