Over the weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a number of bills that would have increased penalties for flying drones over wildfires, grade schools, and prisons in the state.
One of the most notable drone bills that got vetoed would have increased the penalties for flying drones over wildfires in California. In recent months, several firefighting operations have had to ground aircraft used for dumping fire-retardant due to amateur drone sightings.
The US Forest Service has repeatedly posted reminders warning people that a collision between a hobbyist drone and the low-flying aircraft and helicopters used to fight wildfire could cause damage to the aircraft and injuries to the pilots and people below. Despite the warnings, drone sightings keep happening over wildfires, causing the US Forest Service thousands of dollars in aborted flyovers.
In his veto message, Gov. Brown explained his reasoning for vetoing the bills:
Each of these bills creates a new crime—usually by finding a novel way to characterize and criminalize conduct that is already proscribed. This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit. Over the last several decades, California’s criminal code has grown to more than 5,000 provisions covering every almost conceivable form of human misbehavior.
During the same period, our jail and prison populations have exploded.
Before we keep going down this road, I think we should pause and reflect how our system of criminal justice could be made more human, more just and more cost-effective.