Bill Would Ban Balloon Releases From Arizona Skies

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 8:42am
Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 9:22am

Arizona state Rep. Mitzi Epstein
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Arizona state Rep. Mitzi Epstein on Jan. 22, 2020, with Girl Scouts who inspired her legislation to make it illegal to release balloons into the air.

A Tempe lawmaker has followed up on a local Girl Scout troop's request asking for a ban on balloon releases into the atmosphere in Arizona.

Democratic state Rep. Mitzi Epstein equated it to throwing trash out of a car window, and called it just as damaging to the environment.

Her bill, HB 2339, would make it illegal to release balloons into the atmosphere "for any reason,'' including any promotional activity or product advertisement.

The balloons, Epstein told Capitol Media Services, are "the most lethal kind of pollution for birds and for every other kind of wildlife out there.''

Doris Pedersen and Laura Hackett of Liberty Wildlife
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Doris Pedersen and Laura Hackett of Liberty Wildlife explain on Jan. 22, 2020, the harm that can come to wildlife — and birds in particular — when balloons are released into the air.

Liberty Wildlife conservationist Doris Pedersen has backed the bill, in part because she sees Mylar balloons that drift into Arizona waterways as particularly deadly.

"For waterfowl," she said for example, "the shiny Mylar balloons goes in there. And also, the plastic goes in there from the nylon. And they mistake them for jellyfish or other kinds of food that they're supposed to eat."

House Majority Leader Warren Petersen called the bill "government gone wild" to penalize a child for losing a balloon.

The bill, however, makes allowances for accidental releases of up to five balloons, and only requires the offender serve time picking up trash through community service.

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