State lawmaker introduces bill that could ban balloon releases for environmental reasons

Releasing helium balloons into the sky is often done at vigils to honor someone who has died tragically.

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) introduced the bill this week sparked by environmental concerns.

"The balloon releases are important," said  community activist Malik Shabazz, "I know when we watched with the family, the mother, the children and we watch those balloons go up it’s almost like they’re going up to heaven and that’s how the family feels, they applaud and they cry watch each ballon until you can’t see one."

But now Michigan could join the growing list of states that ban ballon releases - Californioa, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Tennessee, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Rhode Island and Virginia.

"This is a bill that was actually brought to me by a 15-year-old student who are her own did research the amount of plastics and the fish they we have end up eating," McMorrow said.

And as pretty and symbolic as the balloon releases are - what goes up eventually must come down.

Ballon waste is now included in the growing list of contaminants that pose a danger to the Great Lakes.

If the bill passes into law people who release balloons into the air could be fined $800. And the fines could jump higher depending on the size of the ballon.

"Our state senator she’s fine a lot of good things, very progressive, but I wish she would hit me up, call me, come to the streets of Detroit," said Shabazz.

"I think the thing that we don’t want with any piece of legislation is something that will be disproportionately used against people of color," McMorrow said. "So it’s conversations we’re looking forward to having … but the reality is, these plastics never break down."