Florida Clamps Down on Balloon Releases

Bill, expected to be signed by Gov. DeSantis, would ban the practice to cut down on ocean plastic
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2024 8:45 AM CDT
Florida Is About to Make It Illegal to Let Go of a Balloon
   (Getty Images / M-Production)

The sight of a balloon sailing toward the heavens until it's little more than a speck could soon become a super rare one in Florida, where lawmakers have voted to ban the intentional release of balloons filled with any gas that's lighter than air. Under current Florida law, each person can release up to nine balloons in any 24-hour period without penalty. The balloon ban, which Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign, would make such a release a noncriminal littering offense that has a $150 fine associated with it. That fine can hit $1,000 for balloons that weigh more than 15 pounds, reports the Tallahassee Democrat.

The New York Times reports that HB321 attracted broad bipartisan support, with Republican Florida state Rep. Linda Chaney noting "balloons contribute to the increase in microplastic pollution which is harmful to every living thing including humans." The Times gets more specific, reporting those balloons that finally come down in oceans or other bodies of water are 32 times more likely to kill seabirds than other forms of plastic. USA Today notes children 6 and under would be exempt from the ban, as would releases done for scientific purposes that have government approval.

Connecticut has a similar ban on the release of 10 or more balloons at a time, but a February article from CT Insider reports that lawmakers there feel like it's challenging to enforce. They're seeking to ban the sale of non-biodegradable balloons in the state altogether. Florida's ban would extend to non-biodegradable balloons as well. (More balloon stories.)

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