A bi-partisan group of State legislators plan to introduce legislation during the 2020 session to ban the intentional release of balloons. The bill comes after Queen Anne’s County enacted a ban on releases of all non-biodegradable, non-photodegradable balloons in August.
Senator Clarence Lam, the bill’s sponsor, says the intent is to reduce the amount of waste in the environment and to raise awareness of proper disposal. If this version of legislation passes, a $250 civil fine would be imposed for each intentional release. There are exemptions for accidental and negligent releases.
Common types of balloons including ones made from latex can accidentally be ingested by wildlife causing serious harm and even death, while those made of mylar can also cause power outages if they come in contact with transmission lines. Several states including Virginia already have laws that restrict release of balloons while Frederick, Worcester, and Wicimico Counties have considered their own versions of a ban.
Lam said that the bill will be enforced by law enforcement at a state and local level and the Maryland Department of the Environment will also be tasked with enforcing the ban. Lam said that balloon waste from releases could end up in farms, waterways and other spaces where it could harm the environment. “What goes up must come down, and you won’t know where they will land,” Lam said.
If the bill passes it will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2020.