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Drones beware. A Utah House committee endorsed a bill Monday that could allow open season on unmanned aerial drones that interfere with emergency operations.

The House Public Utilities and Technology Committee voted 10-0 to pass HB420, and sent it to the full House. It would allow public safety officials to "neutralize" offending drones.

Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, the bill's sponsor, says he really does not intend to allow shooting down drones with guns.

Instead, he said it requires neutralizing them "in the most safe, predictable manner available. I'd actually say that an attempt to shoot it with a firearm is not the safest way to do that." But he said his bill leaves the decision to public safety officials, and protects them against criminal charges if they do neutralize a drone.

He said neutralization could include technology that electronically jams drone signals "so they will fall out of the sky, or throw nets at them, or throw water at them if you are a fire fighter."

Committee Chairman Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, asked, "But this doesn't take a bazooka off the table, though?" Lifferth said, "That is not mentioned in my bill."

The bill allows neutralization only when deemed necessary to stop interference with emergency operations, and only when officials consider the neutralization to be safe for others.

Lifferth said he introduced the bill because interference by drones near wildfires last year caused the grounding of other aircraft that were trying to fight the fires.

The Legislature is considering other similar bills. The House already passed HB126 by Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, to ban drones near wildfires, but it does not allow "neutralizing" them.

The Senate is considering SB210 by Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, to more closely regulate recreational use of drones, and it also would allow "neutralizing" drones that interfere with emergency operations. Harper currently is rewriting it because of concerns by critics.