Republican Utah Senator Mike Lee was heavily involved in the unsuccessful Drone Federalism Act of 2017, a bill sponsored by California Senator Dianne Feinstein that sought to restrict drone usage by giving local government and property owners jurisdiction over National Airspace. Now he's back with a new bill, the Drone Integration and Zoning Act, that will allow cities, states, and Native American tribes to set their own rules on low-flying drones, effectively overriding regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In a statement regarding the new bill, Sen. Lee said:

'The FAA cannot feasibly or efficiently oversee millions of drones in every locality throughout the country [...] The reason that the states have sovereign police powers to protect the property of their citizens is because issues of land use, privacy, trespass, and law enforcement make sense at the state and local level. The best way to ensure public safety and allow this innovative industry to thrive is to empower the people closest to the ground to make local decisions in real time and that is exactly what the Drone Integration and Zoning Act does.'

Basically, if passed, it would give home owners, local businesses, and counties full control over the first 200 feet of airspace above their designated property lines. Above 200 feet, FAA rules would apply. The FAA is not in favor of being overruled by local governments as these new ordinances would create even more confusion amongst drone operators. In a statement to Axios, DJI’s Director of U.S. legislative affairs, Mark Aitken, said the bill would 'spur state and local governments across the country to impose harsh and conflicting taxes and fees on professional and recreational drone flights, throttling an industry still in its infancy.'

Currently, 34 out of 50 U.S. states, including California, are legally allowed to enforce their own regulations and restrictions on drone use at a county level. One state where this isn't allowed is Michigan and a group of people, including the Michigan Coalition of Drone Operators, is fighting back. Back in December, a Genesee County sheriff arrested and detained Jason Harrison for flying in a park. The flight was legal, despite them attempting to rewrite legislation on drone use to fit their preferences – something that is in violation of Michigan State Law – Public Act 436 of 2016.

A follow-up trial is scheduled for November 8th in Flint, Michigan. If the judge rules in Harrison's favor, it will hopefully set a precedent for how National Airspace is dictated across the U.S. While the Drone Integration and Zoning Act of 2019 will likely not gain much traction with Congress, it's still worth writing your Senator to explain how patchwork drone laws will only cause chaos and confusion amongst operators and lawmakers, alike.