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Eye On Boise

Senate passes pro-drone resolution, 28-6

The Senate has voted 28-6 in favor of SCR 103, a resolution encouraging Idaho’s application to become one of six national unmanned aircraft test sites for the Federal Aviation Administration. Opponents included Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, who raised privacy concerns. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said a separate measure regarding privacy and unmanned drones is on its way from the Senate State Affairs Committee.

But Bock said, “I think the growing technology that we face in this world is an ever-present threat to our privacy, and quite frankly, no amount of other resolutions saying that our privacy is going to be protected makes me feel comfortable.”

Winder told the Senate that the state’s Department of Commerce and state colleges and universities all are involved in the project, which he called “the wave of the future” and “a tremendous economic development opportunity for Idaho.” Winder said the project will involve non-military uses for unmanned aircraft, from firefighting to law enforcement to farming.

Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said, “In the last 10 years, the state has lost at least three lives of Fish & Game officials going out in helicopters and counting animals. This is a perfect application of Fish & Game being able to use one of those UAV’s to do those herd counts to understand what our wildlife situation is throughout the state.”

SB 1051, the drone privacy bill, adds a new section to Idaho law banning the gathering of evidence or other information with unmanned aircraft without consent from a property owner, and making any information gathered without that consent not admissible as evidence in a criminal proceeding. It is currently pending in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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