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DeSantis signs law banning ‘intentional’ release of balloons

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday banning the “intentional release of balloons” in the state.

Lawmakers drafted the bill to minimize the number of balloons that drift offshore and wash up on the state’s beaches. Republican Rep. Linda Cheney introduced the bill, touting support from marine conservation groups and cattle farmers.

“Our beaches are Florida’s greatest asset, and not flying balloons is a simple way to protect our waterways and wildlife,” Chaney said. “Flying balloons does damage and no good.”

But Cheney said DeSantis has concerns about the bill, saying it would increase fines for Floridians. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the governor’s office is particularly concerned that the law could be used to fine children.

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday banning the “intentional release of balloons” in the state. (Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“He was weighing the environmental benefits against the potential fines, and that’s not really what we want,” Cheney told the Times.

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The bill was eventually amended to exempt children under the age of six.

“Floridians don’t want balloon debris floating in their backyards, on their favorite beaches or in their local waterways – nor do the hundreds of millions of tourists who visit our state each year,” Surfrider Foundation spokeswoman Emma Haedsy told the Times.

"Floridians don't want balloon debris in their backyards, their favorite beaches or local waterways -- nor do the hundreds of millions of tourists who visit the state each year." Surfrider Foundation spokeswoman Emma Haedsy told The Times:

“Floridians don’t want balloon debris in their backyards, on their favorite beaches or in their local waterways – nor do the hundreds of millions of tourists who visit our state each year,” Surfrider Foundation spokeswoman Emma Haedsy told the Times.

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Marine conservationists and livestock farmers both say animals could mistake stray balloons for food, and both sea turtles and cows suffer health problems from eating plastic in the environment.

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