Sen. Colbeck praises drones’ potential for commerce; urges protections for private-property rights

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, voted this week for passage of Senate Bill 992, legislation that would appropriately regulate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as “drones.”

A proponent of the technology and Michigan’s role in its production, Sen. Colbeck also highlighted the need for strong private-property right protections associated with their use.

“The commercial use of drones holds great promise to revolutionize many businesses in Michigan, and I am proud to see our state at the forefront of their production and use,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The expansion of this untapped market will undoubtedly expand our economy, create jobs, and help Michigan to compete both here at home and overseas. Just as important, however, is the preservation of the private-property rights of our citizens to control the immediate reach of the air space around their homes. Making sure we preserve these rights for all citizens is paramount.”

Sen. Colbeck went on to discuss a prior Supreme Court Case, United States v. Causby (1946), which held that property owners had some abilities to control a limited area of the lower air space around their homes, commonly known as the “immediate reach.” Sen. Colbeck has introduced and is now advocating for passage of a separate bill, Senate Bill 699, which would put the premise of the court case into statute for an area 300 feet above a person’s home.

“While most commercial users of drones want to preserve private property rights, some are advocating for being able to fly their vehicles almost anywhere, even in violation of the low area of air space directly around a person’s home,” Sen. Colbeck said. “I strongly believe, and I think most people would agree, that should not be allowed to happen unless property owners have first given their permission. Proven technology exists to ensure that these vehicles stay on their proper flight paths, and no homeowner should feel helpless to do anything about a questionable drone violating their rights. Michigan voters have strongly voiced their opinion in this area, and have concurred that private-property rights are one of the most important rights we have.”

Sen. Colbeck indicated that while an amendment to SB 992 did provide some property right protections, that stronger language was needed in the bill to ensure those rights would be preserved in the case of a lawsuit. He also called for the additional adoption of his legislation, SB 699, to ensure that the protections were provided as soon as possible.

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