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S.F. No. 3312 - Regulation of Drones and Drone Operators (Delete-Everything Amendment SCS3312A-1)
Author: Senator Ann H. Rest
Prepared By: Krista Boyd, Senate Fiscal Analyst (651/296-7681)
Date: March 29, 2016


Section 1 defines “drone” for purposes of chapter 360 (Airports and Aeronautics) as a powered aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

Section 2 corrects a citation to federal law and adds three misdemeanor violations involving drones to the section in the aeronautics chapter that enumerates aviation-related misdemeanors.   The new violations, relating specifically to drones, are:

  • Launching or recovering a drone from private property without consent;
  • Using a drone with intent to interfere with an aircraft in motion; and
  • Knowingly operating a drone within one mile of a public safety helicopter.

Section 3 makes technical and clarifying changes to the subdivision language making it a gross misdemeanor to commit a repeat violation of the aviation misdemeanors detailed in section 2 (including the drone-related misdemeanors).

Section 4 provides that a drone that weighs up to 55 pounds is exempt from statutory taxes and fees applicable to other aircraft, but may be subject to fees under section 5.

Section 5 provides for a drone commercial use permit.

Subdivision 1 directs the Commissioner of Transportation to issue a commercial use permit to the owner of a drone that weighs up to 55 pounds when certain requirements are met.  The owner must: use the drone for a purpose other than hobby or recreation; provide proof of payment of sales tax on the drone; identify each operator and certify that the operator is qualified under statutory standards; provide proof of insurance at statutory levels; pay an annual permit fee of $25; and provide any additional information required by the commissioner. 

Subdivision 2 requires fee proceeds to be credited to the state airports fund.

Subdivision 3 establishes qualifications for drone operators, including passing a knowledge test in Minnesota or another state, being at least 17 years of age, possessing a valid driver’s license in Minnesota or another state, and satisfying all other applicable state or federal requirements.

Subdivision 4 directs the commissioner to implement a permit application process, offering technical guidance for applicants and permit holders.  The commissioner must inform an applicant of a permit issuance decision within ten days after receipt of the application.

Subdivision 5 makes an owner or operator of a drone who violates this section guilty of a misdemeanor.

Section 6 gives effect to this act on January 1, 2017.

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