Jerry Brown Lets Emergency Responders Take out Drones

DroneCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that will allow the state’s emergency responders to take out civilian drones without fear of civil liability for the damage that results.

Senate Bill 807, introduced by State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado), provides: “An emergency responder shall not be liable for any damage to an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system, if that damage was caused while the emergency responder was providing, and the unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system was interfering with, the operation, support, or enabling of the emergency services…”. The bill defines “emergency services” as:

(a) Emergency medical services or ambulance transport services, including, but not limited to, air ambulance services.
(b) Firefighting or firefighting-related services, including, but not limited to, air services related to firefighting or firefighting-related services.
(c) Search and rescue services, including, but not limited to, air search and rescue services.
The bill was seen by many in the state as increasingly necessary, given the frequent interference of drones with firefighting efforts as the state has battled wildfires in recent years. Earlier this year, for example, an aircraft loaded with over 10,000 gallons of fire retardant and headed for a wildfire in the San Bernardino Forest had to turn back because a drone was spotted in the area that could have placed the plane and its crew in danger.
In a statement thanking Gov. Brown, Sen. Gaines said:
Wildfires continue to ravage our state and we can’t have drones or anything else getting in the way of the first-class emergency response we get from all of our firefighters and public safety officers. These are life-and-death situations where a single delay can lead to tragedy. Let’s keep drones away to protect people and property … I want everyone to know that interfering with firefighting or other emergency activities is reckless and wrong. Let’s get the word out as far and wide as we can – immediately – to help keep our people and emergency personnel safe. … People can replace drones, but we can’t replace a life. Public safety should be our absolute number one priority.
The San Jose Mercury News notes that drones have been spotted increasingly over wildfires in the U.S. It is possible other states will consider similar measures to indemnify emergency responders and clarify responsibility for damage to drones.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart California. 

‘Parking Bill of Rights’ and Other Commonsense Measures to HELP Californians

parking ticketSo much of what comes out of the Capitol hurts average Californians. Efforts to impose new taxes, onerous regulations or laws that dictate lifestyle choices like how much soda one drinks, have citizens ducking for cover. But every now and then, bills are introduced that cut against the stereotype by providing genuine benefit to average folks who don’t have the “juice” in Sacramento as do powerful, well-funded special interests.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto has introduced Assembly Bill 2586, legislation that would make parking, which has become a nightmare in many communities, a bit easier. Titled the “Parking Bill of Rights,” the common sense measure features a package of reforms that include requiring cities to promptly make spaces available to motorists after street-sweeping activities have concluded, prohibiting cities from ticketing motorists who park at broken meters, preventing valet-parking operators from excluding motorists from metered spots, and prohibiting cities from hiring private companies to act as parking “bounty hunters.”

“Occasionally the state needs to step in and remind our local governments that parking a vehicle should be an efficient practice, and not another big hassle designed to separate motorists from their money,” said Gatto. “These simple and practical policy changes will make life easier for Californians who just want to park their cars and go about their business.”

Another bill that will assist middle class families is Senate Bill 874. Authored by Senator Ted Gaines, it would simply increase the dependent child tax credit by 25 percent to $422. That might not seem like a lot of money to big union interests or corporations, but California has one of the highest costs of living in America. For a struggling family, a few hundred bucks buys groceries and shoes for the kids.

Two more bills are sure to be warmly received by older homeowners, a major constituency of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Senate bill 1126 by Senator Jeff Stone would eliminate the 2 percent inflation allowance for seniors of modest incomes. While the two percent rate cap provides great tax relief for most homeowners, even that modest amount is too high for some seniors who are barely able to hold on to their homes.

The other “senior friendly” bill is Assembly Bill 2691, the Monthly Property Tax Payment Program, by Assemblyman Chris Holden. This measure would permit a County Board of Supervisors to approve an ordinance allowing taxpayers over the age of 62 or a person receiving SSI income for a disability, regardless of age, to pay their property taxes monthly instead of twice a year. While not cutting their tax liability, this would help older folks and the disabled to budget for their property taxes.

We won’t know the ultimate fate of these four legislative proposals for a few months. But the mere fact that they are introduced at least allows a discussion to start about how the California Legislature can help the middle class and retired homeowners instead of looking out for powerful special interests who are the reliable sources of campaign contributions.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

This piece was originally published Fox and Hounds Daily

New Bill Targets Drones That Interfere With Firefighting Efforts

Fed up with private drones interfering with firefighting, a state senator has announced another bill to keep unmanned aerial vehicles away from hot spots.

Courtesy CalFireSen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado, said SB168 would indemnify emergency responders who damage a drone during firefighting, air ambulance or search-and-rescue operations.

Earlier this month, aerial fire crews responding to a blaze that swept across Interstate 15 north of San Bernardino had to pull back after five drones were spotted above the fire.

It was the fourth time in a month that a drone had disrupted wildfire response in the region, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service. Gaines introduced SB167 earlier this summer to increases fines and introduce the possibility of jail time for drone use that interferes with firefighting efforts. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, co-authored both bills.

“Private drones don’t belong around these emergencies. That is the first message I want to get out,” Gaines said in a news release. “But if one gets damaged or destroyed because it’s in the way then that can’t lead to financial penalty for the people trying to save lives and property. It’s unfortunate, but that’s all it is. People can replace drones, but we can’t replace a life. When our rescuers are risking their own lives to protect us, I want them thinking about safety, not liability.”

Courtesy CalFireGaines also said it’s his hope that the advent of effective “jamming” technology could keep drones away from emergency response areas and flight paths.

He went on to say that “public education efforts could ensure that the safest, least-damaging methods for avoiding or disabling unauthorized drones will be the primary methods used in these crises.”

In a phone interview on Friday, Gaines said its his understanding that the federal government is working on a technology that would jam a certain frequency used by private drones.

Some government agencies are already using drones, or have plans to do so, to monitor areas including wildfires.

Contact reporter Chris Nichols at chris@calwatchdog.com or on Twitter @ChrisTheJourno

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com