- The House Infrastructure Strategies Committee unanimously approved a bill (HB 1071) related to drone delivery services in Florida.
- The bill defines drone delivery services and establishes criteria for drone port construction, including size and usage.
- The measure also prohibits political subdivisions from withholding business tax receipts or enacting ordinances that prohibit drone delivery services based on the location of a drone port, and exempts drone ports from certain building and fire codes.
The House Infrastructure Strategies Committee unanimously approved a bill regarding drone delivery services, outlining several key provisions that define what a drone delivery service is, what constitutes a drone port, and how political subdivisions can regulate such services.
The bill — HB 1071, filed by Reps. Wyman Duggan and Spencer Roach — establishes a drone port as a standalone building that does not exceed 1,500 square feet in area or 36 feet in height and is used for the storage, launch, landing, and observation of drones.
Moreover, the bill prohibits political subdivisions from withholding business tax receipts or enacting or enforcing ordinances or resolutions that prohibit a drone delivery service’s operation based on the location of its drone port. This provision may allow for the widespread expansion of drone delivery services throughout the state.
The measure further exempts drone ports from certain provisions of the Florida Building Code and the Florida Fire Prevention Code concerning fire protection systems.
The committee also approved of an amendment to the legislation to make it more congruent with its Senate sibling bill filed by Sen. Jay Collins.
“The amendment is the result of some discussions that we’ve had with the Florida League of Cities … and with other members to clarify certain aspects,” said Duggan. “For one, it clarifies that a drone port of greater than one story in height must include at least one stairwell. It also clarifies that political subdivisions may not hold the issuance of a business tax receipt, formally known as an occupational license … but may enforce minimum setback and landscaping regulations.
The use of drones in commercial applications has been growing steadily in recent years, with drone delivery services being one of the most promising areas for expansion. The approved bill intends to increase access to drone ports through greater adoption of delivery services throughout Florida, potentially leading to faster and more efficient commerce.
Despite the sector being in its nascent stages, Walmart has deployed a drone delivery service for select outlets in the Tampa and Orlando regions. As per the company’s official statement during the service’s launch in December, customers residing within one mile of a participating store can place online orders. The drones are capable of delivering an array of more than 10,000 eligible items weighing up to ten pounds, including items such as eggs, in a time frame of just 30 minutes. Amazon has also explored the potential to deliver its packages by drone but has not launched a widespread model yet.