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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Drone bill heads to Inslee

OLYMPIA – State and local law enforcement agencies would need specific approval from their elected officials to buy drones, and a search warrant to use an unmanned surveillance aircraft for much of the information they might collect, under a bill that passed today. . .

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The bill requires the Legislature to approve the purchase of an “extraordinary sensing device” by the Washington State Patrol. A city council or county commission would have to approve purchase by local police or sheriffs.

Drones could be used, with government approval, for tasks like monitoring forest fires, weather damage or wildlife, or responding to a declared state of emergency. But for most other uses that gather information about the people below the aircraft, law enforcement would have to obtain a warrant and prove to a judge that other methods to get that information are either too dangerous or too expensive.

The final version of HB 2789 passed the House 77-21, Tuesday and was sent to Gov. Jay Inslee. It had support from some of the chamber's most liberal Democrats and most conservative, libertarian-leaning Republicans

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, called it "a landmark piece of legislation. . . Washington state is leading the country on this issue."

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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