On Friday Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed several bills affecting the use of unmanned aircraft — drones.
This included Senate Bill 168, which was unanimously passed in both the state Assembly and Senate, that would have regulated drones flying over wildfires or interfering with firefighting or emergency responders.
Essentially Brown objected to the establishment of new crimes. “This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit,” he wrote in his veto message.
“Over the last several decades, California’s criminal code has grown to more than 5,000 separate provisions, covering almost every conceivable form of human misbehavior… Before we keep going down this road, I think we should pause and reflect on how our system of criminal justice could be made more human, more just and more cost-effective,” he concluded.
In August, the role of drones near emergencies was the subject of a state senate oversight hearing. This was a general hearing about a broad set of issues affecting regulation and use of this equipment.
Earlier in the summer, public safety agencies, particularly firefighters, were interrupted during emergencies. Firefighting aircraft needed in the Lake and North fires in San Bernardino County were grounded or delayed because of the presence of drones flying in the airspace over the fire. In July, it was reported that a medical emergency helicopter was grounded in Fresno due to the proximity of a drone.
This summer, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott told the committee, “The most important and critical action is to address the serious threat posed by the irresponsible use of hobby drones in a fire area.” He added that more an a dozen hobby aircraft have interfered with emergency response efforts this summer.