Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Missouri Republicans Lost in Movie Set: Attack of the Drones! [Corrected 04/10/13]

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Missouri Republicans Lost in Movie Set: Attack of the Drones! [Corrected 04/10/13]

Article excerpt

The Missouri House on Thursday protected farms in the state from the Attack of the Drones.

Rural lawmakers, most of them Republicans, fed the conspiracy theory that the federal government has a plan to unleash thousands of drones on unsuspecting farmers, sent by the Environmental Protection Agency to spy on fertilization methods, or by Homeland Security to confiscate guns, or that third agency that former Gov. Rick Perry, a former GOP candidate for president, said he wanted to eliminate.

What was that agency again?

This could be chalked up to the annual legislative silliness that goes on in Missouri's Capitol. On the same day the House gave initial approval to the anti-drone bill, the Senate moved closer to passing a bill from Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, that would protect Missouri from another wild conspiracy, the United Nations' "Agenda 21," which the tin-foil-hat brigade has decided is a worldwide plot to take our property.

No doubt, the U.N. will be sending out drones to enforce its agenda.

But this is more than silliness. It's dangerous lawmaking on behalf of conspiracy theorists.

Rep. Casey Guernsey's anti-drone bill, House Bill 46, could have serious negative consequences on a growing industry that is finding all sorts of commercial applications for drones. The drone industry is already a multibillion-dollar economic driver. The unmanned devices are being used by law enforcement, by journalists, by research institutions (including the University of Missouri- Columbia), by utility companies and by the sorts of entrepreneurial businesses that lawmakers claim to support.

Missouri lawmakers seem intent on erecting a sign at the state border that says, "Closed for drone business: Send your jobs elsewhere."

The real motivation behind the anti-drone law isn't about protecting the right to privacy, but taking further steps to protect large, corporate farming interests that already have more protections in Missouri than most places in the country.

Mr. Guernsey's law specifically carves out protection for property owned by farms or agricultural industry so that concentrated animal feeding operations, such as large hog farms, can go on polluting the air and water without any interference from government officials who might seek to protect the environment. …

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