Drone penalties on agenda for Utah lawmakers special session

This public service announcement provided by the U.S. Forest Service shows a poster warning people not to fly drones near wildfires. A spate of drone sightings near firefighting aircraft is fueling calls for more oversight and self-policing in the skies. (U.S. Forest Service via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah lawmakers will consider harsher penalties for anyone flying a drone over a wildfire and spending $10 million toward a new stadium when they meet in a special session this week.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced the special session Monday. Lawmakers are scheduled to consider nine bills during the Wednesday afternoon session.

Herbert last month called for heavier penalties for those flying drones over a wildfire after three drone sightings near a southern Utah fire forced firefighters to ground their planes.

Flying over a fire is generally a misdemeanor but the governor says it should be a felony crime that could involve prison time.

Lawmakers will also vote on whether to help pay for a state fairground stadium.

The Mormon church and other groups are expected to cover the remaining $7 million cost of the 10,000-seat stadium.

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