Drones are on the minds of a lot of lawmakers right now.
Their domestic arrival is now inevitable—the FAA estimates that 7,500 small drones, formally referred to as unmanned aircraft, will be in American skies by 2018. Drones will be fertilizing crops, aiding in search and rescue, and helping cops chase down criminals. And they’ll be creating jobs—lots of them, in areas such as manufacturing, training, and research and development. The unmanned aircraft industry hopes that there will be 100,000 people with drone-related jobs by 2025.
State legislators want those jobs for their communities, but they’re also aware that drones today are most famous for two things—spying and killing. This year lawmakers are engaging in a careful political dance, trying to make their states open to drones while also protecting citizens’ civil liberties.These sometimes contradictory goals have created a tough environment for drone-restricting legislation to actually become law, despite a flurry of interest across the country.