RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia lawmakers have approved legislation to ban the intentional release of all non-biodegradable balloons.
The possible new law would slap offenders with a civil fine of $25 per balloon if intentionally released.
The legislation was backed by environmentalists and coastal residents who regularly complain about litter from balloons on Virginia beaches and the potential harm to marine animals.
The Senate approved a House bill, but some Republican senators questioned whether the bill went too far by prohibiting the outdoor release of even a single balloon.
Current law prohibits the release of 50 or more balloons within an hour and carries a civil penalty of $5 per balloon.
A local business, Rudee Flipper Dolphin and Whale Watching commented on the bill passing through the Virginia Senate saying, "We are very thankful for this new law, and we know that our local wildlife is as well! We are also thankful for all of the environmentalists, politicians, and citizens that helped push this bill through! We will, of course, continue our #cleanoceaninitiative and remove any balloons or other litter from our ocean as much as we can, but we do hope that we will start to see far less balloons in our local waters!"
The bill heads to Gov. Northam's desk to make a decision and he can sign it into law, ask for changes or veto it. He is expected to make a decision sometime in March.