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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Hobbyists Welcome Proposed Changes To Drone Legislation

SALEM, Ore. – A bill that would regulate drones is dead in the Washington legislature but is still flying in Salem. An Oregon Senate panel will consider the measure on Wednesday. And people who fly unmanned aircraft for fun say new changes to the Oregon bill have addressed their concerns.

For fun, Patrick Sherman straps a camera to a small, remote-controlled helicopter and flies the contraption over parks and fields. As originally written, the Oregon Senate’s bill on drones would have made it a misdemeanor for Sherman to engage in his hobby unless he got special permission from the state.

Now, a proposed amendment backs away from that requirement. Sherman still doesn’t like the bill. But at least it leaves room for his hobby.

"The bill makes it so that it's not illegal to own or to fly a drone, but rather to commit certain offenses with it," he explains. "And for the most part these are offenses that I believe virtually everyone thinks should be crimes."

Stuff like invading personal privacy and electronic eavesdropping. The measure would still require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before using a drone unless a crime is in progress.

A similar measure died in the Washington legislature this year after objections from aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

On the Web:

SB 71: Regulating the use of drones - Oregon Legislature