West Virginia Senators Pass Drone Regulations

CHARLESTON — State senators approved a bill Wednesday that regulates the use of drones in West Virginia.

The bill has been years in the making, according to its lead sponsor.

Senate Bill 9 sets a number of guidelines for both the personal and professional use of drones, or unmanned aircraft.

Senate Judiciary Commitee Chair Charles Trump said Tuesday his chamber has actually been working on the legislation for several years, but last summer, the Federal Aviation Administration released its guidelines about drone usage.

“But there’s a good bit that the federal aviation administration left to the states basically unregulated for the states to craft their own rules and that’s what this bill endeavors to do,” he said.

Among its many provisions, SB 9 lays out rules for the use of drones on personal property and sets penalties for publishing images taken with a drone without permission of the subject.

It defines how news organizations can use the aircraft and says law enforcement must have a warrant to take pictures or video with a drone, unless it’s for public safety or search and rescue purposes.

With so many groups interested in the bill, Trump said it became a much more complex piece of legislation than anticipated.

All senators representing the Northern Panhandle, including Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, Charles Clements, R-Wetzel and Dr. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, voted in favor of the bill, which now moves to the House of Delegates/

Marra is a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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