California Lawmakers Push for Stricter Drone Restrictions

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SACRAMENTO --

California lawmakers from both houses met with firefighters and drone industry executives Tuesday to weigh some of their options to keep drones out of no-fly zones.

Nationally, the Federal Aviation Administration said the number of drones reported almost being hit by pilots has jumped from around 200 incidents in 2014 to around 600 so far in 2015.

State Senator Ted Gaines, a Republican from the first senate district, said there's many areas where drones have become a big problem.

"Air Force base or the State Capitol, those are assets that we want to make sure are properly protected," Gaines said.

Already, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs better known as drones, have grounded flights Cal Fire and other agencies are using to put out massive wildfires.

"All it takes is ingesting one of those through a motor of an aircraft or contacting a windshield and we could have a mid-air collision and crash the airplane," said Ken Pimlott, director and chief of Cal Fire.

Pimlott said his agency is using laws already on the books to prosecute offenders.

"Existing law through both the penal code and public resources code that allow us to go after people that impact the ability of firefighters," Pimlott said.

But after a joint legislative committee meeting Tuesday, Gaines said it's obvious those current laws are not good enough.

"I think a thousand dollar fine is not enough if you took out an aircraft that could kill people," Gaines said.

Gaines hopes to pass Senate Bill 167, which would better restrict flying in burn areas, as well as increase fines and add jail time.

"I'm hoping we can work on it very rapidly, I would like to get it done by the end of session, and that gives us until mid September," Gaines told FOX40.

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