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California Governor Committed to Friendly Skies

Drones will deliver as many as 18,000 jobs and more than $14 billion in economic impact to California in just 10 years.

This September, for the second time in a year, the California Legislature passed legislation that would shackle the innovation and delay the benefits of drones. Thankfully, just a few days later – also for the second time – CTA helped convince California’s governor to veto the harmful bill.

California Assembly Bill 2724 would have impacted the sale and operation of drones in the state. But CTA tapped its myriad of Innovation Movement supporters in the state – part of our team of “Drone Defenders” – to email to Gov. Jerry Brown and ask for his veto. Their case was convincing and straightforward: Drones will deliver as many as 18,000 jobs and more than $14 billion in economic impact to California in just 10 years, but only if an appropriate and balanced policy framework is in place.

Drones are already changing our lives for the better – enabling safer tower and building inspections, expanding options for photography and film production, quickly delivering life-saving diagnostics and medicine and improving crop production. If California had gone the other way and favored onerous drone laws, the benefits could have slowed down. CTA is fighting for the policies that allow these remarkable benefits to arrive at the lightning-fast speed of innovation.

We’re committed to a collaborative policymaking process between the private and public sectors. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over such drone issues as safety, flight paths and no-fly zones. But misaligned, conflicting state and local laws around the country threaten to throttle nascent drone technology. Overzealous local regulation could produce a sloppy patchwork of rules restricting entrepreneurs and startups, stifling job creation and confusing professional and recreational drone users.

Among the ways CTA fights for favorable policy for drones and other technology is through its annual Innovation Scorecard, tracking and grading states on their actions impacting innovation. According to our most recent Scorecard, in 2015, six states adopted policies detrimental to drone use and innovation often criminalizing drone operations that are authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration. None of those states earned the title Innovation Champion, which recognizes the states that best encourage innovation.

This year will be a record-setting year for drones in the U.S. CTA forecasts sales of drones will reach record heights in 2016, topping 2.4 million units – more than doubling last year’s sales – with 1.2 million of those units purchased during the holidays. With so many new drone owners getting their first taste of flight, CTA supports the safety campaign “Know Before You Fly,” giving drone operators the information they need to fly safely and responsibly.

CTA stands ready for the next defense of drones – whether it’s in California, or anywhere across the country where this technology holds so much potential for consumers, businesses and innovation.

Tyler Suiters