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Friday, June 2, 2023
Drone Bills in Hawaii Legislature
By News Release @ 2:49 AM :: 1830 Views :: Small Business


News Release from Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Advocacy, June 1, 2023

For the 2023 legislative session, Hawaii introduced five measures, two of which passed. Hawaii has a two-year session, so the measures that did not pass this session will remain eligible for consideration in 2024. The State covered a wide range of topics related to UAS, from issues of misuse and trespass to development offices and departmental use.


Needs Improvement

House Bill 128/Senate Bill 229 – This measure creates the offense of misuse of unmanned aircraft in the first, second, and third degree. It makes it an offense to arm or possess/operate an armed UAS, operate a UAS to interrupt a manned aircraft, use a UAS to deliver contraband, use UAS to commit a felony, cause bodily harm with a UAS, disable identification or anti-collision lighting of a UAS, damage property with a UAS, operate a UAS while intoxicated, interrupt the performance of emergency services through a UAS, and operate a UAS while intoxicated. While it is important to ensure the safe use of UAS, many of the listed offenses are already prohibited by federal or state law, making this measure unnecessary and duplicative. The measure did not have any action in this session.


Senate Bill 989 – This measure makes it trespass with a UAS if a person intentionally causes a UAS to cross the property line of another and come within 50 feet of a dwelling to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person or after having been given notice to desist, or to take off or land in violation of FAA restrictions. It provides an exception for a person authorized by the FAA to operate. This measure follows established aerial trespass language and requires both intent and harassment, ensuring that simple overflight is not restricted. The measure passed both Houses.

Above Average

House Bill 1200 – This measure requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to establish a UAS program. It prohibits the Department from purchasing, operating, acquiring, or using UAS manufactured or assembled by a covered foreign entity. It further appropriates money for the UAS program. In creating a departmental program, this measure promotes drone use for public benefit, allowing the State to take full advantage of the benefits UAS offers. The measure passed both houses. 

Senate Bill 1482 – This measure establishes an aerospace and aeronautics development program within the Hawaii technology development corporation. Programs such as these recognize the importance of this emerging industry while creating a space that encourages its development and allows for informed policy making. This measure passed the Senate. 

Willingness to Engage: Satisfactory

Hawaii has consistently shown a willingness to engage with interested parties. With multiple of the above measures, AUVSI reached out to offer comments and begin conversations. In each case, the involved stakeholders engaged in these discussions, taking the time to ask questions, meet with us, and ask for our support in relevant cases. By being open to our input and willing to build relationships with industry experts, Hawaii is taking the steps to have an informed and favorable environment for drones.

Openness to Industry: Satisfactory

The Hawaii legislator was open to hearing concerns and comments from industry. With the two comprehensive regulatory measures that were unfavorable, AUVSI reached out immediately expressing concerns and providing backed up evidence. Neither of those measures had any movement this session, showing a willingness to consider industry's point of view.

Overall: Satisfactory

The Hawaii legislator covered a wide scope of UAS related issues this session. Throughout, the legislature showed a willingness to engage with industry and hear concerns, with discussions being had with stakeholders and time being taken with the development of language. With consideration shown to industry and stakeholders throughout the 2023 session, Hawaii proved its commitment to remaining a favorable environment for drone operations and industry investment. 


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