Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Drones debate back on legislative agenda

Timothy Pantle operates a remote-controlled helicopter equipped with a high definition video camera at a park in Fair Oaks on Nov. 6, 2014.
Timothy Pantle operates a remote-controlled helicopter equipped with a high definition video camera at a park in Fair Oaks on Nov. 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee file

Debate rages over the ethics of using drones to fight wars abroad, but as the unmanned aircraft become increasingly popular for domestic uses – from photography to university research – concerns over safety and privacy have sprouted up closer to home, as well.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an informational hearing, 2:30 p.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol, to consider the innovative potential of drones versus the legal questions they pose. Representatives from the military, movie industry, media and law enforcement will discuss how they use drones and the emerging issues surrounding free speech, privacy and property rights.

Apprehension over drones has made its way to the Legislature before. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have limited when law enforcement agencies could use the aircraft without a warrant and required the destruction of most data collected within a year.

VIDEO: There are fewer stranger things in politics than a battle over a missing $40 million trust fund at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Dan Walters says.

GIMME SHELTER: In November, President Barack Obama announced a controversial executive action to halt deportations for more than 4 million undocumented immigrants. The order expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for those brought to the U.S. illegally before the age of 16, and created a new protection for the undocumented parents of children who are legal citizens. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services begins accepting applications tomorrow for the DACA expansion and lawmakers across California are publicizing the change. State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, and members of SEIU will hold a press conference to celebrate the executive action and inform potential applicants about the program, noon at the federal immigration building on Capitol Mall.

WALK ON: In honor of Black History Month, Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, are hosting a special screening of Selma, the award-winning film about the 1965 voting rights march in Alabama, 6 p.m. at the Century Downtown Plaza 7 theater. The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials and voting access advocacy group Future of California Elections are co-sponsors.

PLEASE MR. POSTMAN: Mail balloting has begun for the March 17 special primary elections in three state Senate districts – the 7th, 21st and 37th – vacated after their representatives were elected to Congress in November. The 7th district race is expected to especially competitive, as former Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla and Joan Buchanan face off against former Brown adviser Steve Glazer.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, who turns 47 today.

READ MORE: Drones now doing business in the skies above you

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.