The Maryland Senate approved a bill this Tuesday that would make it illegal to intentionally release balloons into the atmosphere.
The bipartisan legislation passed without debate with a final vote of 38-3.
If the bill clears the House of Delegates and is signed by the governor, it would go into effect on October 1, 2020.
Senator Clarence Lam, a Democrat representing Maryland Senate’s 12th district, introduced the bill, titled “Solid Waste Management – Prohibition on Releasing a Balloon Into the Atmosphere” during the current legislative session.
Senator Lam was inspired by a similar bill passed locally in Queen Anne’s County last year, which became the fist county in Maryland to ban balloon releases.
“This bill is necessary because intentional balloon releases are not much different than littering. Balloons that are intentionally released into the atmosphere must came down somewhere, and the environmental and commercial impacts of these balloons are real,” he said in a statement sent to DCW50. “We’ve heard from residents of the Eastern Shore who have seen wildlife harmed by balloons, including turtles and fishes that have ingested balloons, birds found with balloon string tied to their legs, and even Assateague ponies with balloons hanging out of their mouths.”
Senator Lam clarified that the bill is not intended for children who accidentally release balloons into the air – it only pertains to intentional releases like those at celebrations, memorials, remembrances, or birthdays.
Joseph Olmo is a bilingual multimedia freelance journalist in the Washington D.C. Metro area. He is a digital storyteller and content writer for DCW50.