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Jay Falstad, executive director of the Queen Anne's Conservation Association, supported a ban on balloon releases in Queen Anne's County. A statewide ban is moving forward in the Maryland General Assembly.
Jay Falstad, executive director of the Queen Anne's Conservation Association, supported a ban on balloon releases in Queen Anne's County. A statewide ban is moving forward in the Maryland General Assembly. (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

Maryland’s state senators approved a bill that would ban balloon releases into the atmosphere, in hopes of putting an end to the practice that often leaves litter miles away.

The bill creates a civil fine of up to $250 for the intentional release of a balloon by an organization or an individual who is at least 13 years old.

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The bill had bipartisan sponsors and passed on a 38-3 vote without debate on Tuesday morning. The House of Delegates is considering a companion measure but hasn’t yet taken action.

If the bill clears the House and is signed by the governor, it would go into effect Oct. 1.

Balloon releases are popular for celebrations and memorials. But proponents of balloon bans argue that what goes up, must come down — and the deflated balloons and strings that land miles away pose a danger to wildlife and contribute to a litter problem.

Queen Anne’s County and Wicomico County on the Eastern Shore already have bans on balloon releases, and Ocean City also has a ban as part of its anti-littering law, according to legislative analysts.

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