Iowa lawmakers look to restrict drone flights over homes, farms

(ABC 6 News) – A new bill in the Iowa Legislature would make it a crime to fly drones in certain situations.

According to the bill, House File 572, if a person were to fly a drone over somebody’s house or farm outside of city limits, they could be charged with a simple misdemeanor. There could be a more severe charge if the drone is equipped with a surveillance device, like a camera. If somebody sues claiming harassment because a person flew a drone over their property, the bill would allow a judge to prevent that person to fly a drone for two years.

Rep. Derek Wulf (R-Black Hawk County) said the purpose of the bill is to protect farmers’ privacy. “I believe this bill is a step in the right direction to protect Iowa’s farmers and ranchers as they work every day to protect the safety and security of their livestock and the operation they take pride in.”

An original version of the bill didn’t include carve-out structures within city limits, which was a concern for pilots who use drones for business purposes.

Airspace is overseen by the FAA, however local lawmakers can restrict where drones are able to land or take off. This bill does have some exceptions including if somebody gets permission from the property owner, if the pilot is part of a state entity, or if the pilot is collecting data about the climate or weather conditions.

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support in an 87 to 10 vote, but it hasn’t passed the Senate yet.