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Update from California: (Almost) All’s Quiet on the Western Front

Here in California, 2017 has been a very quiet legislative session with regard to drone law. Prior years have seen many attempts—many unsuccessful—to regulate drone use in a variety of ways.  The current legislative session ended on September 15 with only a single drone-related bill passed by the legislature.  AB 527 (Caballero) will make modest revisions to existing law regarding licensure requirements for those who operate pest control aircraft. The Bill’s author, Anna Caballero, represents the 30th assembly district, which includes the Pajaro and Salinas valleys—both major agricultural areas. If the Governor signs AB 527 any person operating an unmanned aircraft in pest control will need to be certified to do so by the California Department of Health—this certification is an expansion of the procedures already in place for those who conduct pest control operations using manned aircraft. The certification process does not appear to be onerous, but will certainly require more training and expertise than the current unregulated legal landscape.

This bill reflects the increased use of drone technology in the agriculture industry and is yet another example of the law trying to catch up to fast-growing technology in the drone field. This trend will only continue as the industry continues to innovate and find new ways to make use of drone technology. The Governor has until October 15 to sign or veto AB 527. Inaction means the bill becomes law.