Jones introduces bill banning drones at state Capitol

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones on Wednesday introduced legislation to make it illegal to fly a drone around the Michigan Capitol building without a permit from the Michigan State Capitol Commission.

“As drones become larger, faster and more numerous, they are increasingly becoming a risk to the safety of the public, which is my main concern,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “We don’t need drones flying around the Capitol and possibly crashing into visiting families or students or damaging the historic building.”

Senate Bill 549 would prohibit the operating of an unmanned aerial vehicle within the airspace above the Michigan State Capitol Historic Site unless given special permission from the Capitol Commission.

“If the Capitol Commission wants to allow trained photographers to use drones for a special event or a wedding, that would be appropriate,” Jones said. “However, allowing anyone to buy a drone and then take it down to the Capitol to buzz the building is not fun and games. It’s inappropriate and puts the visiting public at unnecessary risk.”

Jones’ measure would put into state law a policy unanimously approved by the Capitol Commission this summer. When commission members banned drones from flying over the Capitol grounds they also expressed their wish to have the Legislature toughen the policy through legislation.

Under SB 549, an individual violating the proposed law would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in prison, a fine of up to $500 or both.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration.