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Bill making drone use around jails a crime passes state Senate

The California State Senate passed legislation Friday that would make the flying of drones over prisons or jails in California a misdemeanor offense, sending the bipartisan measure co-authored by local state senators to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.

State Sen. Patricia Bates (R- Laguna Niguel), whose District 36 includes northern portions of San Diego County, and state Sen. Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon), co-authored the legislation, which was drafted by state Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Glendale). Its proposal was sparked by recent incidents nationwide of drones attempting to deliver pornography, drugs, guns and other contraband, according to a release from Bates' office.

“Drones offer many fantastic uses for society, but dropping porn, drugs and guns into our prisons and jails is not one of them,” Bates said in a statement. “The bill simply makes it clear that flying unauthorized drones over California’s correctional facilities is unacceptable and illegal.”

Senate Bill 170 would provide exemptions for jail and prison employees, but would otherwise be considered a crime for anyone who knowingly and intentionally operates a drone on or above the grounds of a state prison or a jail without permission.

The bill passed by a tally of 39-0, with one abstention. It passed the California State Assembly on Thursday by a vote of 80-0.

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