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Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) plans to introduce a bill that would assign states, cities, and Native American tribes sweeping new powers to set rules for small, low-flying drones, and give property owners more control over what happens immediately over their land.

Why it matters: Lee's proposal would establish new clear rules for the first 200 feet above ground, and override Federal Aviation Administration concerns about a "patchwork quilt" of regulations that differ from one locale to another.

The good: States, cities and tribes could tailor drone activity to local needs and preferences.

The bad: The changes risk creating new complications for companies operating drones in many locations for delivery or inspection.

Details: The legislation, which Lee's office says he intends to introduce Wednesday, would allow property owners to control 200 feet of airspace above their land, and give states and local governments jurisdiction over the 200 feet above state or local-owned land.

  • Above that line, existing FAA rules would kick in.

The big picture: The conservative senator cites federalist principles as a key motivator for the proposal.

What they're saying: DJI, the Chinese company that dominates the small-drone market, said it's "concerned" about the proposal.

  • In a statement to Axios, DJI director of U.S. legislative affairs Mark Aitken said the bill would "spur state and local governments across the country to impose harsh and conflicting taxes and fees on professional and recreational drone flights, throttling an industry still in its infancy.”

Flashback: In 2017, Lee co-sponsored the Drone Federalism Act, which had similar aims. The bill never got anywhere.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from DJI.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.