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Drone Bill Passes Senate

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Washington state took another step closer to being one of the only states in the nation to place privacy protections around the use of unmanned surveillance aircraft by state agencies.

Commonly referred to as the “drone bill,” Engrossed House Bill 2789 passed the Senate Friday evening as one of the last bills before a cutoff deadline. The bipartisan proposal passed with a 46-1 vote.

Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee and prime sponsor of the bill, said he was happy with the bill’s progress through the legislative process.

“I’m extremely happy for the citizens of this state,” said Taylor. “Personal liberty, freedom and privacy are not partisan issues. I’m very appreciative of the bipartisan work done in both the House and Senate that led to today. I especially want to thank Senators Mike Padden, Adam Kline, Don Benton and Brian Dansel. Without the honest and open discussions we’ve had, this bill would not have passed the Senate.”

Taylor’s bill was altered in the Senate to say that any data collected by drones and then used in court must be subject to public disclosure laws. Because it was amended in the Senate, the bill must now go back to the House for concurrence. If the House concurs with the Senate amendments, the bill then goes to the governor for his signature. If the House chooses not to concur with the Senate amendments, a conference committee is assigned to see if the differences can be ironed out.

Taylor said he expects the House to concur with the Senate.

“In the end, the bill does exactly what we hoped and that’s protect the constitutional rights of our citizens yet addresses some of the concerns brought forward by stakeholders,” said Taylor. “I’m hopeful the governor will recognize the need for constitutional protections and sign the bill into law.”

The 60-day 2014 legislative session is scheduled to end March 13th.

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