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Kentucky House bill would outlaw the release of 25 or more balloons

Legislation aimed at reducing plastic waste would also ban grocery bags and prohibit straws at restaurants

John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Releasing balloons at weddings or memorial services could become a thing of the past in Kentucky if a bill introduced in the state's House of Representatives becomes law.

The proposed legislation would restrict the number of balloons released in one day to 25, ban disposable grocery bags and prohibit restaurants from offering straws to patrons in an effort to reduce plastic waste.

What are the details?

House Bill 183, which was proposed by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D) Tuesday, states that "no person shall knowingly release or launch into the atmosphere more than twenty-five plastic balloons filled with gas that is lighter than air during a twenty-four hour period." Hot air balloons and balloons released indoors would be exempt.

Violators "shall be subject to a civil penalty of $100 per day for the first and all subsequent offenses."

Balloons have already been banned altogether in the city of Louisville since 2003, but law enforcement officials have been reluctant to enforce the law, according to the Courier-Journal.

The prohibition was spearheaded by animal rights activists, and the ordinance warns that runaway helium-filled balloons "are carried east by prevailing winds and burst over the Atlantic Ocean where they have been eaten by dolphins, sea turtles, seabirds and migratory waterfowl, sometimes resulting in the death of such animals by (an) intentional blockage."

These so-called "balloon laws" are increasingly being imposed across the U.S., according to the nonprofit Balloonsblow.org. California, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia all have statewide bans on the books, and cities like Nantucket and Baltimore are also party-poopers.

Who is fighting this insanity?

The primary crusaders against balloon laws is The Balloon Council, a trade organization made up of "concerned balloon manufacturers, distributors, and retailers." According to Balloons Blow, The Balloon Council is responsible for stopping a ban on sky lanterns in New Hampshire.

The Balloon Council maintains that "while we do know that animals occasionally eat those soft slivers of rubber, the evidence indicates that pieces ultimately pass through the digestive system without harming the animal."

The organization adds, "although many stories have been repeated about sea creatures dying from balloons, extensive research by the industry and reporters has yet to identify one such story."

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