Illinois may outlaw balloon releases of 50 and up, up and away

Illinois may outlaw balloon releases of 50 and up, up and away

Illinoisans planning a balloon release will need to count carefully. State lawmakers voted to fine repeat offenders who wantonly release 50 or more balloons.

It was 1984 when a German pop group made “99 Red Balloons” the No. 2 song on the Billboard charts, but by 2022 they might face a fine for releasing so many balloons in Illinois.

The Illinois House on April 21 voted to make it illegal to release 50 or more balloons in Illinois. Do it once, get a warning. Twice, a $500 fine. A third time, a $1,000 fine.

And that’s for each group of 50 balloons: “The release of more than 50 balloons shall constitute a separate violation for every 50 balloons,” according to House Bill 418, which passed the Illinois House 90-23. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2022, if it passes the Illinois Senate and is signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, said balloons are an environmental threat and recently caused a power outage for over 1,000 customers in Champaign. After released balloons come down, they create problems for farmers and wildlife.

Interestingly, government agencies and universities are exempt from these rules, according to the bill.

Illinoisans face the highest state and local tax burden in the nation and the No. 2 property taxes. There’s a $317 billion public pension deficit eating away at state finances.

Springfield has yet to tackle those big problems. But at least Illinoisans will be safe from too many balloons, if HB 418 becomes law.

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