Kansas Legislature Eyes Ban on Foreign-Made Drones to Boost National Security

A Push for Security or a Financial Burden? Kansas Debates Banning Foreign Drones

In a move that's stirring both support and concern among lawmakers and law enforcement agencies, Republicans in the Kansas legislature are spearheading a bill aimed at tightening national security by restricting state agencies from acquiring drones and drone components manufactured in “ of concern.” These include , , , , Cuba, and Venezuela.

This legislative effort, embodied in HB 2820, is part of a broader push by House Majority Leader Chris Croft, R-Overland Park, who is also advocating through HB 2766 to prevent these nations from buying land near military installations within Kansas, reports KSN.

The Motivation Behind the Move

The bill emerges amidst escalating worries about national security and the influence of foreign technology within the , particularly technologies produced in countries with adversarial relationships to the U.S. The concern is that drones made in these nations could pose a security risk, potentially being used for espionage or other malicious activities against American interests.

The Concerns from Local Enforcement

Bel Aire Chief Darrell Atteberry shared his thoughts during a hearing on the drone bill, offering a nuanced view. He acknowledged the importance of safeguarding the U.S. from potential threats from nations like China. However, Atteberry highlighted a significant challenge posed by the bill: its financial implications for local departments.

Describing the bill as an “unfunded mandate,” he pointed out that many law enforcement agencies in Kansas are small and might struggle with the financial burden of replacing their current drones with more expensive alternatives not made in the concerned countries.

He noted that DJI, a leading Chinese tech firm, supplies about 90% of the drones used by Kansas's law enforcement agencies, valued for their affordability and high quality, with prices ranging between $12,000 and $35,000.

No Opposition, But Still a Debate

Interestingly, no one testified against the bill during the hearing, leaving its fate in the hands of the House Commerce Committee, which will decide whether to advance it to the House floor for further debate. This lack of opposition does not eliminate the complexities surrounding the proposed legislation, especially considering the financial strain it could place on smaller departments.

Balancing Act Between Security and Practicality

As the Kansas legislature contemplates this significant shift in policy, the debate underscores a common dilemma faced by policymakers: how to balance national security imperatives with the practical, often financial, realities on the ground. With the bill still under consideration, Kansas finds itself at a crossroads, weighing the benefits of reduced dependence on foreign technology against the costs and challenges of such a transition for local law enforcement.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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