Just ask Chad Pegracke from Living Lands and Waters and he'll tell you how much debris he and his organization clears from our local waterways, lakes and rivers. That includes what's left behind after balloon releases.

Illinois State Representative Stan Yingling knows balloon releases are a problem and he's trying to do something about it by proposing Illinois House Bill 418 (HB-0418).

The bill looks something like this.

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Provides that no person shall knowingly release or cause or organize the release of balloons into the air unless the balloons are (1) used by an institution of higher education or a governmental agency, or pursuant to a governmental contract, for bona fide scientific or meteorological purposes or (2) released indoors and remain indoors. Provides that persons who violate the amendatory Act's provisions shall be subject to a civil penalty of $500 for each offense, and that the release of 50 balloons or fewer at one time is a single offense. Effective January 1, 2022. 

 

Not exactly crystal clear, but back in April of this year the Illinois House voted to make it illegal to release 50 or more balloons in Illinois. You'll get a warning if you violate the law once. $500 for the second time and $1000 for a third for each 50 balloons you release.

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Take note though government agencies and universities are exempt from these rules, according to the wording of the bill. Funny how the people who make the rules often exempt themselves from those very same rules, but I'm hoping it has something to do with research and education?

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According to WROK, the bill’s sponsor, Illinois State Representative Sam Yingling says balloons are an environmental threat and recently caused a power outage for over 1,000 customers in Champaign. After released balloons come down, Yingling says they create problems for farmers and wildlife.

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This is a problem for the environment. Keep the balloons inside and dispose of them correctly. Find more creative ways of celebrating or honoring those life changing events. But also, doesn't the State of Illinois have bigger fish to fry?

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