Washington State’s drone limiting legislation is dead. House Bill 1771 did not seek to outlaw the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, rather it sought to limit their use. The summary of HB 1771 states that this bill is “AN ACT Relating to protecting Washington citizens from warrant-less surveillance, reducing liability, and establishing clear standards under which agencies may utilize unmanned aerial vehicles…” No one should have a problem with that, right? That’s what I thought, but I was wrong.
Boeing objected. The Seattle Times reported that House Democratic leadership has said that “…Boeing lobbied against the bill because the company feared it could hurt its ambitions to manufacture and test drones for use by law-enforcement or other agencies.” This same Democrat leader, Rep. Jeff Morris has told the Seattle Times that the lobbying by Boeing isn't what killed the bill, the House leadership simply wanted more time to study it. I wonder, will they use the time in between legislative sessions to study this issue?
A main sponsor of this bill, Rep. David Taylor (R, 15th LD) said “This is about profit over people’s rights.” He’s absolutely right!
The Democrats in the House, specifically the Speaker, Rep. Frank Chopp (D, 42rd LD), is ultimately the one responsible for refusing to allow a scheduled vote on HB 1771 to take place, despite overwhelming support in Speaker Chopp's own district and broad bipartisan support, and I have to ask "Why?" For further study? I doubt it. Could it be that a back room deal was made between the Democrats and Boeing? What if Boeing promised to make off season campaign donations to key Democrats in the House? What if the Democrats offered to kill the bill in exchange for Boeing’s public support of legislation that’s bound to be wildly unpopular with Washington voters, like a massive hike on the State gas tax? Would that shock you?
Keep in mind that this bill truly was bipartisan, and was sure to pass the House prior to Boeing's meddling. All we hear from the mainstream media is that Republicans and Democrats need to come together. That's exactly what happened with HB 1771 and the Democrats chose to bow to the pressure of special interests rather than protecting the civil liberites of Washingtonians.
I suggest that we watch closely what Boeing does in the coming months. We should watch for any off season campaign donations (to Rep. Pat Sullivan and Rep. Eric Pettigrew, for example). We should keep an eye on what legislation, if any, that they publicly support. Maybe the legislature really does want further study. After all, we’re told that only Republicans make sneaky, unethical back room deals, right? Then again, maybe there’s something more going on. Whatever happens, we’ll be vigilantly watching.