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Amazon wants to use a drone to deliver your new jacket, and a beer company thinks unmanned aircraft systems are perfect for deliveries to remote Minnesota lakes. But at the same time, hunters and anglers in downstate Illinois are concerned that animal-rights activists will use drones with cameras to interfere with their sport.
Drones are still most known for their use by the U.S. military, but they are beginning to get more attention from state legislators and others who set domestic policy.
The recent activity in Illinois is a case in point.

I have a new Capitol Research brief out this week looking at Autonomous Vehicle Legislation. It examines how states like Michigan are preparing for the advent of self-driving cars and what kinds of legislative issues state governments are going to need to think about down the road as the industry gets going over the next decade. I encourage you to check it out. But I also wanted to pass along a variety of other resources where you can read more on the subject.

Autonomous vehicles—self-driving cars—hold the promise to one day change the very nature of travel in the United States. For the moment, they remain mostly in the realm of science fiction, although significant developments are expected over the next decade. In 2013, Michigan became the latest state - joining California, Florida, Nevada and the District of Columbia - to enact legislation to allow automakers and others to continue to conduct autonomous vehicle research. But even as the industry and states contemplate a future for such vehicles beyond the research and development stage, some question whether these types of legislation may be premature while we still know so little about exactly what that future will look like.

By Brian Selander

There are hundreds of great articles, books and tutorials on how to become a more active and engaging presence on Twitter. Being a public official who wants to communicate in 140 characters or less comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

The Supreme Court decided today that it will hear two cases addressing whether police can search cell phones or smartphones without a warrant subsequent to arrest. Case law on what police can and cannot do when they make an arrest is pretty settled - they can search the person being arrested and what's within that person's reach, particularly to find weapons or evidence that could be destroyed. However, the lower courts are divided on whether or not cellphones or smartphones can be searched without a warrant in the same way. 

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Across the Midwest, state legislators have heard stories about the promise of high-speed broadband, and the problems of having inadequate or no connections at all. In her home state, Sen. Jennifer Shilling says, family-owned dairies in rural Wisconsin have been able to expand product sales well beyond state and even national borders — thanks to having a strong Internet presence. But at the same time, she has talked to emergency responders in rural parts of her district who couldn’t find a nearby Internet connection reliable enough to simply complete a state-mandated certification course. 

In contrast to the disappointment of technology around the federal health insurance exchange website, news comes that a San Diego start-up company has created a 3D printed liver that lasted for 40 days. The researchers have not mastered the ability to integrate blood vessels into the printed liver, so it cannot stay alive and healthy indefinitely.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments endorses the Aerospace States Association’s policy paper “UAS Privacy Concerns” addressing unmanned aircraft systems privacy concerns; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments supports the Federal Aviation Administration-monitored use of UAS as emerging technologies with a potential economic benefit for states.

Story appears in the 2013 July/August issue of Capitol Ideas.

By Indiana Rep. Ed Clere, House Public Health Committee Chair

As consumers, we have become accustomed to having easy access to information and reviews about the things we buy and the places we visit. Whether we’re shopping for an appliance or a car or looking for a restaurant or a hotel room, we learn from and make purchasing decisions based on the experiences of others. Imagine if we were able to do the same with health care.

Christopher Matthews of Time magazine recently posted an interesting piece on an under looked aspect of the economy: worker productivity. His central argument is that rising worker productivity is what allows for either rising wages or more leisure time. However, worker productivity has been declining even before the onset of the recession and the numbers are astounding.