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The Senate passed legislation Thursday that would prohibit flying drones over a wildfire and interfering with the firefighting operations.
Sen. Kevin Van Tassell said last summer drones flying over a blaze hampered firefighting efforts. The Federal Aviation Administration controls the airspace, but second substitute HB126 would add state penalties.
The legislation would make it a class B misdemeanor to recklessly fly a drone over a fire and a class A misdemeanor if the drone keeps a firefighting air tanker from dropping retardant on the fire. It would be a third degree felony if the drone collides with a tanker and a second-degree felony if it causes the tanker to crash.
The House passed the bill late last month. On Thursday the Senate amended the bill to prohibit local governments from passing ordinances to restrict drone flights over fires and passed the bill 27-0, sending it back to the House for debate on the change.