BALTIMORE -- Up, up, and away no more? With a 92-47 vote in the House of Delegates Thursday, both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly have now voted to ban the intentional release of balloons into the air.
The bill, sponsored by Eastern Shore Republican Delegate Wayne Hartman, 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. The goal, proponents say, is to the practice of celebratory balloon releases that often leaves litter miles away.
Maryland's state senators have already approved their own version of the bill. 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. But proponents of balloon bans argue that practice creates trash that poses a danger to wildlife.
Queen Anne's County and Wicomico County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland 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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