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Commonwealth's Counties

House and Senate enhance a local government’s ability to regulate drones

With just over a week remaining in the 2020 legislative session, both the House and Senate have approved legislation that enhances a local government’s ability to regulate the operation of unmanned aerial systems (colloquially referred to as UAS or, more simply, drones) on their own properties.

HB 742 (Bulova) incorporated several other bills that were introduced that had the same – or at least a similar – objective and ultimately takes a three-pronged approach:

  • First, it authorizes a political subdivision, by ordinance or regulation, to regulate the take-off or landing of certain unmanned aircraft on property owned by the political subdivision in accordance with the rules and regulations adopted by the Department of Aviation.
  • Second, the bill requires the locality to report the ordinance or regulation to the Department and directs the Department to publish a summary on the locality’s website.
  • Finally, the bill directs the Department to develop rules and regulations specific to take-offs and landings in consultation with representatives of the unmanned aircraft system industry, small and medium-sized businesses utilizing unmanned aircraft systems, localities, and other stakeholders.

HB 742 passed the House of Delegates by a 96-0 vote and the Senate by a 39-0 vote. The bill is now before the Governor.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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