April 9, 2021
By Walt Williams
Marylanders who release floating party balloons into the sky could face fines of up to $100 under a bill approved by state legislators. However, a trade association representing balloon manufacturers and sellers wants to deflate the proposed law before it gets off the ground.
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p>The ban on intentionally releasing balloons has cleared the Maryland General Assembly and is awaiting signature by Gov. Larry Hogan, although it is unclear whether he will sign the bill, the news site DCist reported Thursday. In addition to a proposed $100 fine, the law would require people caught releasing balloons to watch an informational video or perform community service.
Supporters of the bill say helium-filled balloons eventually become litter that pollutes the environment. The Balloon Council argues that bans are not the answer.
“It’s really people’s behavior that needs to change,” Lorna O’Hara, the council’s executive director, told WAMU/DCist last year when the balloon bill was first introduced in the Maryland legislature. “Balloons are not the culprit.”
The Balloon Council was formed in 1990 to fight the types of laws currently being considered in Maryland, according to its website. The group instead believes that public education is the answer and argues that latex balloons are fully biodegradable.
DCist noted that other states have bans on releasing balloons into the sky, including Virginia, which prohibits releasing more than 50 balloons in an hour. Violators can be fined $5 per balloon.
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