ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Senate has approved a measure that would create a statewide ban on the intentional release of balloons into the atmosphere.
The Senate voted 38-8 on Tuesday for the measure. A similar bill is pending in the House of Delegates.
The bill creates a civil penalty of up to $250 per violation by an organization or a person who is at least 13 years old. Supporters of the measure say it’s needed to reduce littering.
Frederick County Councilman Kai Hagen (D) introduced a similar measure last year at the local level, which passed in a 5-2 vote before the County Council in December. Part of his reason for introducing the bill, he said previously, was to join Queen Anne’s County and other jurisdictions in being a model for the state when looking at the issue. In August, Queen Anne’s County became the first county in Maryland to ban the intentional release of non-biodegradable balloons.
And last year, researchers in Virginia released a study about the local problem of balloon litter in the marine environment.
Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) was one of the eight no votes. He said the law is already on the books, through penalties for littering.
“Littering is already a $1,500 [misdemeanor],” Hough said in a text Wednesday. “This bill creates a $250 civil penalty to litter with a balloon. The bill was unnecessary.”
The House of Delegates version of the bill has yet to reach a vote.