Up, up, and away ― no more?
With a 92-47 vote Thursday in the House of Delegates, both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly have voted now to ban the intentional release of balloons into the air.
The bill, sponsored by Eastern Shore Republican Del. Wayne Hartman, establishes a civil fine of up to $250 for the release of a balloon by an organization or an individual who is at least 13 years old. The goal, proponents say, is to end the practice of celebratory balloon releases that often leave litter miles away.
The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Clarence Lam, a Howard County Democrat, passed by a vote of 38-8.
Both chambers must pass the same version of the bill for it to go to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for his consideration.
Balloon releases are popular for celebrations and memorials. Proponents of balloon bans argue the practice creates trash that poses a danger to wildlife.
Queen Anne’s and Wicomico counties on the Eastern Shore already have bans on balloon releases, and Ocean City has a ban as part of its anti-littering law, according to legislative analysts.