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Drone legislation could put Bend co. out of business

By John Hendricks
Published On: Feb 09 2013 01:29:55 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 09 2013 09:47:52 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's John Hendricks reports on a bill in the Oregon senate that could ban drones state wide

BEND, Ore -

A new bill in Salem could mean anyone who owns or uses a drone to capture images of people on the ground would face jail time -- and that could doom one high-flying Bend business.

If Senate Bill 71 passes as written now, owners of urban drones could spend 20 years in jail or a $375,000 fine.

State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat from Eugene, introduced the bill.

"I think we all expect and want to be safe within our houses and not having unlawful searches," Prozanski said.

State Sen. John Huffman, a Republican from The Dalles, also has talked about legislation. His is geared toward restrictions on law enforcement and other public agencies.

"It's a reminder to police agencies that people do still have rights in America, and you need to be careful on how you use drones," Huffman said.

Businesses in Bend like XPro Heli say if the bills become law, it would have a profound impact on the business.

"What they're trying to do is protect people's privacy and I get that," Hans Skjersaa said Friday. "But they are throwing such a big, broad blanket."

Skjersaa started his business a year ago with a prototype, and last month had sold 40 quad-copters.

"This is a huge industry, and for me to be able to create some jobs here in Bend is kind of really a cool thing for me," Skjersaa said. "I was really excited about it. If this things passes, that's six jobs that are gone right away."

Skjersaa says the proposed legislation needs to be looked at closely, because it could have a more far-reaching effect than intended.

"You take that and say, Oh, yeah I can't do that in Oregon," Skjersaa said. "What production company in California is going to come up to Oregon to film any more? It's going to have a lot of impact on a lot of things."

Both lawmakers who are proposing legislation say it's still a work in progress. But with an estimated 30,000 drones expected to be flying over the U.S. by 2020, they say something needs to be done now.

Visit XPro Heli's Facebook page here. And here is the text of SB 71. (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

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