- Published: Monday, June 03, 2013 04:38 PM
Senate Bill 1587, The Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act
Senate Bill 1587 will require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before using a drone to gather information. The federal government has begun deregulating domestic drone use, leading many states to explore the question of how to put in place reasonable privacy regulations for drones. Illinois will join Virginia, Florida, and Idaho as states that have passed legislation dealing with this topic.
The technology available to law enforcement agencies is evolving rapidly and could eventually pose an extremely grave threat to our privacy. I want Illinois to take a proactive approach — recognizing that drones can make police work more efficient and keep officers out of harm's way, but also acknowledging the potential threat they pose to individual liberties.
A law enforcement officer seeking to use an unmanned aerial vehicle would have to demonstrate probable cause and obtain a warrant, just as officers must now do before searching a home. Law enforcement agencies would also be required to disclose drone ownership; currently, there is no way to know how many drones are in use in the state and who owns them. SB 1587 includes exceptions allowing a drone to be used without a warrant to film traffic accidents and crime scenes on public property and to search for missing persons.
In my view, this piece of legislation effectively balances the right to be left alone with the legitimate contributions drones may make to public safety.
Senate Bill 1366, Extension of the Early Retirement Option
Senate Bill 1366 extends the Early Retirement Option (ERO) for teachers for three more years. This is an option that teachers can exercise wherein they retire early without a penalty, and they and their school districts reimburse the pension system for the additional cost. It was scheduled to expire at the end of June, which was problematic both because some teachers were already in the pipeline to retire and also because when properly used, it's a good program for school districts, teachers, and the state.
The innovation in SB 1366 is that its ERO extension is purely voluntary for school districts -- that way, if they don't think it's worth the cost, they don't have to participate, but school districts that find this to be a good deal for their students and taxpayers are free to do so. In either case, it doesn't cost the state anything -- it's an approach that puts the cost and the decision-making power in the hands of the school districts, which is good economics, good government, and good education policy.