Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bill establishing drone regulations flies through committee

Unammed aerial drone in flight
Lake Area Technical College
Unammed aerial drone in flight

The House Transportation Committee advanced a bill establishing guardrails on the drone use.

Senate Bill 169 aims to protect the public against the potential criminal usage of drones.

The bill would make operating a drone in a careless manner a misdemeanor. It would also establish legal permissions for recreational operators who are following the law.

Sen. David Johnson is a pilot and prime sponsor of the bill. He said it would set the legal framework for drone usage in the state.

“South Dakota needs to just step up, we need to address the idea that there are issues with drones, and we’re trying our best with this type of legislation to protect the rights of drone operators, pilots, of manned and unmanned aircraft, and trying to prevent the criminal use of drones. there is no other way to do it that I am aware of. And it’s coming, one way or another,” said Johnson.   

Sen. Red Dawn Foster spoke in support of the bill. She said drones create new opportunities for students - specifically those who attend tribal schools.

“Embracing drone technology can turn our reservations into hubs for future advancement. This has already led to the stimulation of STEM education with tribal schools across South Dakota, incorporating aviation and drone programs. And it has inspired many schools to establish drone racing teams,” said Dawn Foster.

There was no opposition testimony to the bill. The committee voted 12 to zero in support of the bill Tuesday.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.