The Missouri House narrowly passed a bill late last week banning government surveillance drones for use over Missouri properties. State lawmaker Casey Guernsey, a Republican and chair of the House Ag committee, drafted the legislation. Speaking on the House floor, Guernsey said, “The federal government in conjunction with the state government of Iowa and Nebraska actually engaged in surveillance that brought about 50 different actions against farmers in Iowa alone.” Guernsey suggested that charges against those farmers might be unfounded. He says those interpreting the data “don’t understand anything about growing crops” or “keeping cattle.”
Representative Jeff Roorda, a Democrat from Jefferson County and former police officer who supports the original premise of the bill says amendments pushed the bill too far. Roorda says by adding the words “manned aircraft” to the provision, every law enforcement agency in the state would have to ground its planes and helicopters. He says, “I think that the bill as it’s amended goes way too far and that it hobbles law enforcement.”
Guernsey disagreed saying, “If you live where I live and you followed what was going on all of last year of the government literally spying on farmers in Iowa and Nebraska I think you’d feel a little bit differently, especially if you were a farmer.”
But Roorda argued the Constitution specifically protects individual privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches in your person, your home and your personal effects, saying, “Not in an open field, not in the highways and byways of our state, so, you’re over extending here and creating an expectation of privacy where none exists, gentlemen.”
The bill, which now goes to the Missouri Senate, also bans the news media from using drones for private property and individual surveillance.
~Brownfield’s sister network Missourinet contributed to this report~