Most legislators work on legislative committees or commissions all year round. I have been appointed as a member of the Legislature is to serve as one of South Dakota’s delegates to the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). The ULC has been meeting for 128 years but this was the first year that I have been a delegate.
The ULC is a body of lawyers, including legislators, from around the country that meet and work on the preparation of uniform laws, in other words, laws that could be adopted across the country. The procedure followed is that any proposed Uniform Law must be brought up and debated for two years before the ULC makes a final decision whether to recommend the adoption of the new law to the various states.
The benefit of “uniform laws” is that the laws in each state are then the same so that individuals and businesses that operate in more than one state can deal with the same or similar laws in each state and don’t have to learn about and comply with different laws in each state. Over the years, South Dakota has adopted 70 of the Uniform Laws. The best known of the uniform laws which have been adopted in South Dakota are the Uniform Commercial Code and the Uniform Probate Code.
During the week-long conference, seven delegates from South Dakota joined approximately 250 commissioners from all fifty states and considered possible uniform laws dealing with a wide variety of topics. Among the acts considered were the Uniform Electronic Wills Act, the Uniform Automated Operation of Vehicles Act, the Uniform Registration of Canadian Money Judgements Act, the Alternatives to Bail Act, the Unregulated Transfer of Adopted Children Act, the Easement Relocation Act and a proposed Uniform Fundraising Though Public Appeals Act. I thought that the proposed Uniform Fundraising Though Public Appeals Act was particularly timely in light of the growing popularity of crowdfunding and the awareness that some of the crowdfunding appeals are fraudulent. During the conference the ULC also considered possible revisions to the existing Uniform Probate Code, and to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act.
Of particular interest to me was the consideration of the Uniform Tort Law Relating to Drones Act. In 2017 I drafted and sponsored SB 80 which provided some regulations for the use of drones in South Dakota. SB 80 passed both houses and was signed by the Governor. The South Dakota law made it a crime to operate a drone over a prison or to use a drone to deliver contraband; made it a crime to use a drone to photograph another person at a location where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy; and forbad landing a drone on someone else’s property except in case of a crash landing.
I believe that the two-page drone act that we passed in South Dakota in 2017 was just as helpful as the 12 page proposed Uniform Tort Law relating to Drones that is under consideration by the ULC.