Ky. lawmaker proposes drone legislation hoping to define the rules

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Just weeks after a Kentucky man gained national attention for shooting down a drone in his backyard, a state lawmaker is proposing new legislation.

State Representative Diane St. Onge (R-63) is hoping to define the rules and set new boundaries. 

"I think that this is something which we need to pursue," St. Onge said. "There's no current law."

She says she’s trying again after two failed attempts.

Many people noted the lack of laws regarding drone use when William Merideth shot down a drone in his back yard in Hillview, Ky., last month. He cited his right to privacy, saying it got too close to his family.

"I didn't shoot across the road, I didn't shoot across my neighbors fences -- I shot directly into the air," Merideth said on July 28.

St. Onge wanted clarification on drones long before this incident garnered national attention for the issue. 

“Because there have been incidences where you have drones flying over people's homes and people are shooting them down,” said St. Onge. “You have incidences where you're not quite sure whether or not a drone can be used, can the information collected be used -- you know -- the courts are sort of in a quandary. Do we use this information or not, was it obtained legally?"

This summer marks the third time she's introduced her drone legislation, BR 197.

It says law enforcement agencies in Kentucky cannot use drones to gather information unless they get a search warrant.  Without it, the information collected could not be used in court.

LMPD says it does not have drones, but Louisville fire does and used one to assist efforts to fight the Whiskey Row fire back in July.

“We absolutely want to take use and make good use of the technology as we do with all technology but again as we've seen with advancements in other areas of technology, you have to be careful," said St. Onge.

The legislation gives exemptions to the U.S. military, companies using drones for legitimate business purposes, and colleges and universities collecting data for education, research or testing.

Rep. St. Onge says there are still several unanswered questions about drones including where they can fly, what information can be collected and how that information is used.

She says she’s sponsoring another bill dealing with personal drones and privacy, and plans to submit it in the next few weeks.

"I think the public's ready for it,” she said. “They want something out there and I think the legislators are in tuned with the need for this."

BR 197 will not be voted on until at least January.

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