Thursday, March 22, 2007

God Bless the American Balloon Police

Actually these people have a point, mass toy balloon launches do leave lots
of rubbish downwind somewhere.

CONCORD – People will want to hold onto their balloons if the Senate agrees
with a House vote yesterday to ban balloon releases.

By a vote of 215 to 111, the House approved a bill that treats balloon
releases as a form of littering.

HB 62 originally barred the release of two dozen or more lighter-than-air

The version that passed yesterday could bring a $250 fine for even a single
balloon let loose. A second offense could bring a $500 fine. The bill
specifically exempts hot air balloons, weather balloons and others released
as part of scientific research.

The bill does not penalize accidental releases.

Those who favored the bill said the balloon materials, including the
attached strings and ribbons, pose a serious threat to wildlife. Whales,
turtles and seabirds that live along New Hampshire's coastline mistakenly
eat floating balloons thinking they are food, and then are unable to eat
real food.

"Do we now get balloon police?" Rep. Randolph Holden, R-Goffstown, asked.

Rep. Kevin Waterhouse, R-Windham, said police officers would be given
enforcement responsibility.

A move to give the job to Fish and Game officers was rejected, since the
department is under budget pressure already.

He said people need to be aware that balloon releases cause real harm to

"It doesn't just go to heaven and disappear. It comes back down again,"
Waterhouse said.

Waterhouse said he was inspired to sponsor the bill by a group of
homeschoolers studying ecology.

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