TRENTON-Imagine the scenario… You’re walking along the boardwalk with your child and she accidentally lets go of the big pink balloon she just received from a stand or vendor. Then a police officer walks up to you and issues you a $500 fine.
Sounds unlikely, but it could be a possibility if a new bill proposed in the New Jersey legislation becomes law.
As New Jersey reels from a pension funding crisis, some legislators are busy tackling another problem the plagues the Garden State, loose balloons.
New legislation introduced by State Senator Jeff Van Drew (D) and Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D) seek to impose fines up to $500 for the “illegal release of balloons”. That is by anyone but government employees.
Senate bill 3288, if passed will permit municipalities, by ordinance, to prohibit the release of balloons.
“A municipality, by ordinance, may prohibit any person, organization, firm, or corporation from intentionally releasing, organizing the release of, or intentionally causing the release of, balloons, including latex and Mylar balloons, that are inflated with helium, or other gas that is lighter than air, within the municipality’s borders. The ordinance may impose a penalty, not to exceed $500, for the violation of such an ordinance,” the bill reads.
Of course, like many government restrictions, the state will allow the government to continue to release balloons.
“The provisions of this section shall not apply to a balloon released by a person on behalf of a government agency,” the bill states.
Here at the Jersey Shore one local freeholder last week raised his own concerns about the release of balloons, citing several concerns.
“If these metallic-covered balloons strike power cables, they can cause widespread electrical outages,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joe Vicari. “We are getting more and more reports of deflated or shredded Mylar balloons found floating in the bay and in the ocean.”
Vicari said he discussed the Mylar balloon problem with representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection and local environmentalists at the annual Barnegat Bay Blitz.
“We spoke of the importance of educating people about unseen dangers of these balloons,” he said.
Vicari did not mention the new proposed bill that would allow municipalities to fine those who release balloons intentionally.