California’s New-Found Love of Unmanned Aircraft

Amid all the debate over the role of drones in the U.S. military, these pilotless aircraft are getting a lot of love from California legislators. Less than six months into the new legislative session, four bills relating to drones (described officially as “unmanned aircraft systems” by the attorneys at the Legislative Counsel Bureau) have been introduced so far. This is a significant increase over the zero bills on that subject during the last decade.

While federal officials debate the role of drone aircraft in civilian airspace and in military operations, the use of these aircraft has become increasingly widespread. From the $300 “AR Drone” quadcopter, which can shoot high-definition video and has a range of several hundred feet to the military RQ-4 Global Hawk (with a pricetag of $104 million and range of 8,700 miles) the flexibility of these aircraft have led to their use in an always-growing range of applications.

As the industry continues to take off, California legislators are working to make California a center for the growing industry (bringing a large share of the anticipated 100,000 manufacturing jobs and billions in revenue to the state).

The four bills introduced so far this session, relating to “unmanned aircraft systems” are:

Assemblyman Gorell

AB 1327 (Gorell) would prohibit public agencies (except for law enforcement) from using unmanned aircraft systems to observe of another person without that person’s consent. The bill would also require images, footage, or data obtained by the drones to be permanently destroyed within 10 days (with a few exceptions, including for use as evidence of a crime, as part of an ongoing investigation, or when authorized by a court order).

Assemblyman Fox

AJR 6 (Fox) would ask the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to consider California as a test site for unmanned aircraft systems, while Fox’s other bill, AB 737 (whose bill number is a cute reference to the world’s best-selling jet airliner) would require the Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to prepare a proposal to establish a drone test site in California and to consult with an advisory commission and specified local governments in developing a proposal for presentation to the FAA.

Senator Padilla

SB 15 (Padilla) is an “intent language” bill that merely states the intention of the Legislature to establish appropriate standards for the use of unmanned aircraft systems.


California Political Maps

A map of the 2013-14 Assembly Members and Districts (from

For the true California politics enthusiast, it’s hard to imagine something more exciting that finding a useful new resource.

As someone who has spent many hours building a library of legislative district maps, I was very impressed by the new maps sold by the people over at California Political Maps. Although they could have been a little more creative with the naming of their business, they’ve done an excellent job producing a beautiful set of maps that present a lot of information.

The brightly colored maps depict county boundaries, district lines, and cities. The maps also include insets that detail the smaller districts in the more urban parts of the state.

Finally, the maps include pictures of the legislators (which is helpful with the huge number of new legislators in the new session) as well as the constitutional officers and Supreme Court justices.

A map of the 1891 State Senate Districts (from the 1895 California Blue Book)

It used to be easy to keep track of legislative district lines; the first bill to divide the state into legislative districts fit on a single page (it had grown to thirteen pages by the 1891 redistricting).

Prior to 1966 redistricting, counties were rarely divided between legislative districts, and good maps could be printed on a single 8.5″ x 11″ page. Following the court decision in Reynolds v. Sims, districts were required to be equal in population and the maps got much more complicated.

California Political Maps has created a solid product that communicates a massive amount information in a colorful and well-designed format.

You can check them out at

Handwriting Analysis: California Legislators

Assemblyman Rudy Salas

Assemblyman Rudy Salas

Having recently read a couple articles on handwriting analysis (like this one, this one, and this one), I was pleasantly surprised to see the recent release of a February 19th letter from several state legislators to the Franchise Tax Board that included the signatures of most of the new class of legislators. As you take a quick look at the signatures, take these two points into consideration:

  • The article at says that large signatures indicate high status, while small signatures indicate “the writer expects little esteem from other people.”
  • The article explains that “Right slanted writing signifies someone who freely expresses emotional feelings, is affectionate and passionate. A vertical slant is used by people who are always in control, level headed, and show no emotion.” It appears to me that all but one of these signatures are either right-slanted or vertical. So what does that say about Nestande?

To compare some older signatures, check out this 2009 letter from Assemblyman Pedro Nava (who had one of the most creative signatures I’ve seen).

I’ll let you read the rest of the articles (and study the various signatures) for yourself.