California's Failed Balloon Ban May Be Floated Again
Sunday, May 04, 2008
The party isn't over in California for helium-filled mylar balloons.
Even as a proposal to ban the sale of the glittery globes ran out of air last week in the state Senate, where it fell five votes short of passing, some proponents continue to work to get legislation reintroduced.
They say the legislation is needed to yank the party favors that end up tangled in electricity lines and cost businesses big bucks.
"It's a little like Russian roulette with the electric system," said Greg Simay, assistant general manager of Electrical Distribution for Burbank Water and Power. "The mylar balloon conducts electricity and mother nature likes to send electrons through the balloon, a whole lot of them, rather than to the customer."
The City of Burbank said one out of 8 power outages is caused by the party favors drifting into power lines, and after weather and equipment failures, balloons account for the majority of service interruptions.
Lawmakers now have until the end of this month to provide more information to the Senate Public Safety Committee to float new legislation.
Sen. Jack Scott (D-Altadena) sponsored the failed bill that would have banned the helium-filled balloons starting in 2010. Retailers would have been fined $100 for selling the helium-filled balloons and could have even faced misdemeanor charges for repeat offenses.
Shopowners said the proposed legislation was too drastic and put the responsibility on those who sell the balloons, not the ones that purchase them.
"I don't know how many balloons or how responsible we really are for that. They're saying that we are," said Delphine Leonard owner of Balloon Gallery Extraordinaire in Beverly Hills.
She and others who sell the balloons say they want more information that their products are truly harmful. They estimate a ban on mylar balloons would cut their business in half.
"That would really affect the businesses and the parties," said Leonard.
"People want mylars. They want the Mickey Mouses. They want the walking Elmos, they want the little things that bring life."