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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Vetoes Drone Bill

The governor issued an alternative moratorium on drone use or purchase by state agencies, and asked local law enforcement to also abide by the ban.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a 15-month delay on surveillance drone use or purchase by state agencies, after vetoing a bill passed by the legislature to address the issue.

HB 2789 prohibited government agencies from using "extraordinary sensing devices" on unmanned aerial vehicles, except under specific conditions, and from collecting personally identifiable information with them.

The bill passed with a final vote of 77 representatives in favor and 21 opposed, and 46-to-one in the senate before the governor vetoed it recently and announced the delay. He also asked local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the ban.

The governor instead issued a 15-month moratorium on drone use or purchase by state agencies, and asked local law enforcement to also abide by the ban.

Senator and congressional candidate Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, issued a statement saying that Inslee should have worked with the legislature to address concerns about the bill.

"The governor's decision to bypass the legislature, veto the bipartisan drone bill, and address the issue through an executive order is a prime example of the type of short-sighted, 'I-know-best' attitude that has come to epitomize Gov. Inslee's first term," she wrote.

Holmquist Newbry said the bill addressed privacy concerns and drone use in a comprehensive way, including requiring the devices to carry an identification number in case of a crash resulting in property damage or personal injury.

Inslee said he shared lawmakers' concern about privacy issues, but believed the bill needed more work.

"Among other issues, this measure contains conflicting provisions on disclosure and destruction of personal information. This could lead to shielding government uses of this technology from public disclosure," he wrote.

Inslee also said the bill's broad definition of personal information would make it impossible to use the new technology legally.

He said he'll create a task force to examine the issue in more depth and introduce a bill for the next legislative session.

©2014 the Columbia Basin Herald, Wash.