A bill that aimed to keep people from using drones to violate the privacy of others failed in the North Dakota House on Wednesday morning. The bill passed the House on Tuesday.
House Bill 1493 from Rep. Luke Simons, R-Dickinson, sought to make it a Class B misdemeanor for anyone to intentionally violate another person's privacy using unmanned aerial systems like drones.
Representatives voted 56-36 to kill the bill Wednesday after opposing legislators requested the House reconsider their original 49-44 vote from Tuesday.
"Passage of this bill could be detrimental to the UAS industry and its growth in this state," said Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck. He and other lawmakers like Cynthia Schreiber-Beck, R-Wahpeton, claimed Simons's bill singled out unmanned aerial vehicles such as drones, which they said act only as carriers for recording devices like cameras.
Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, was one of the legislators who voted in favor of the bill and, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, voted to give the bill a "Do Pass Recommendation" on Feb. 14.
"The flipside of what we're hearing is that anytime the term 'unmanned aerial vehicles' appears in a bill, or a drone or something to that effect, certain folks get alarmed," Koppelman said. He added the bill doesn't target the state's bolstering UAS sector, just individuals using unmanned technology with malicious intent.
Opposing legislators also raised concerns that the bill's language wasn't clear or firm enough.
"My main concern is the fact that there's no intent language in this bill," said Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo, who originally voted Tuesday to move the bill forward. "There's nothing that says a person has to intend to invade someone's property (willfully)."