Got a drone? Planning to get one?
A new law signed Wednesday by Gov. Doug Ducey will affect where you can — and cannot — fly it. And it voids any attempt by cities and counties to impose their own rules.
Other bills given the governor’s approval include:
– Requiring police to keep secret the addresses and other identifying information of witnesses to crimes. The move is designed to protect privacy but could impair the ability of reporters to track down and interview witnesses as well as lawyers for people who have not yet been formally charged with a crime.
– Giving business owners clearer power to remove “service animals” that cause problems. They cannot prohibit dogs and miniature horses that patrons need but need not tolerate bad behavior by the animals.
Ducey also vetoed legislation crafted by Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, that would have required the Legislature to issue a press release if spending increases exceed growth or inflation.
The governor said he supports the general goal. But he called the measure “unclear and vague” and said it doesn’t take into account spending that’s actually done to reduce existing debt.
The new law on drones — more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles — comes as the price of the devices has come down, making them more readily available for everything from businesses wanting to make deliveries and shoot aerial videos to hobbyists who might be more interested in having an onboard camera peer into a neighbor’s rear yard.
Much of the push for the measure came from companies like Amazon that are hoping to use drones for delivery. But company officials said they feared that could be precluded by a patchwork of local laws.
Those fears are not unfounded.
For example, the Town of Paradise Valley voted last year to ban people from flying drones over private property without permission. The ordinance also says those who want to use a UAV over public property must first obtain a special-even permit from the town.
SB1449, which takes effect Aug. 6, invalidates any existing local laws. And it bars communities from adopting new ones.
But some of the debate concerned questions of privacy — or lack thereof.
The original version crafted by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would have made it illegal to take pictures of someone in a rear yard without that person’s expressed written permission. But Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, said that misstates existing privacy law.
He said courts have said the central question is whether someone has an “expectation of privacy” in a given area. On one hand, someone sitting in the front yard clearly does not; a bedroom is a different story.
Farnsworth said there is no expectation of privacy in a rear yard, which is why someone who has a two-story house is free to peer into the rear yard of a next-door neighbor. In fact, he said, the neighbor is even entitled to get on a ladder and peer over the wall “for hours on end” without violating the law.
The final measure also does not include language that would have made it a crime to videotape a “critical facility.” That includes everything from water and sewage treatment plants to power substations, railroad facilities and courts.
But it does allow cities to ban their use in parks — provided that at least one park does permit drones to be flown. That does not apply, however, if a community has only one park.
Other measures signed Wednesday by Ducey include:
– Ensuring that grandparents who care for children removed from their homes by the Department of Child Safety can get welfare payments;
– Expanding the definition of “burglary” to include breaking into a gas pump or other machine that accepts credit and debit cards to install a device that records the card number and PIN so someone can steal the information;
– Allowing doctors licensed in other states to practice in Arizona for limited periods of time;
– Making it easier for distant relatives to adopt children who have been placed with them in foster care;