Legislature puts a pin in proposal to ban outdoor balloon releases
Image via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Balloons NOAA
‘It’s an antiquated, stupid thing people do.’

Miami Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo floated it as something of a test for bipartisanship in the Legislature. The response — or lack thereof — may be deflating.

Lawmakers this year have given no play to legislation Pizzo sponsored with St. Petersburg Republican Rep. Linda Chaney that would have banned the intentional outdoor release of commercially sold balloons.

Neither the Senate nor the House version of the measure (SB 1512, HB 91) received a single hearing. Now 45 days into Session, subcommittees are no longer meeting and bills that have yet to be introduced typically won’t be.

The identical proposals applied to balloons “inflated with a gas that is lighter than air” — typically helium — other than government balloons and those released for “specific or meteorological purposes.”

Current law allows people to release up to 10 balloons in a 24-hour period. Violators face fines of $250. The measures by Pizzo and Chaney, who enjoyed co-sponsorship support from Islamorada Republican Rep. Jim Mooney, would have brought the number of balloons allowed to be released daily to zero.

Balloons accidentally let go would be excused.

Speaking with Florida Politics in early March, Pizzo explained he’d filed the bill both to test his fellow lawmakers and because it was the environmentally sensible thing to do.

“I want to see if there’s any scintilla of a bipartisan or nonpartisan shift, left or right, and here’s something that shouldn’t be political that we should all agree on,” he said.

“It might sound silly to some people, and I’m sure I’ll get Twitter hate for it, but the releasing of balloons is objectively horrible for the environment. It’s an antiquated, stupid thing people do. It’s the functional equivalent of abusing pyrotechnics for a gender reveal party.”

He’s not wrong, and we’ve known for decades.

Balloons are made from three types of substances: latex, mylar and vinyl. While latex balloons are more eco-friendly than the other two types, since they are made from natural rather than synthetic material, they still take months to begin decomposing. And if they land in water, they can take even longer to degrade and may actually gain mass, depending on the water type.

The impact on the environment is substantial, Win Everham, an environmental studies professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, told Fox 4.

“The wildlife — the birds, the turtles — they ingest the balloons thinking it’s something to eat, and it gets stuck in their throat and it gets blocked into their digestive system. That string gets wrapped around them. A bird with a string wrapped around its wing can’t fly anymore. A dolphin with a string tight on its fin could lose the fin,” he said.

“People want to come here to see wildlife, to see seabirds. People come here to have an experience on the beach, and if the things we are doing are making a bad experience — you know, no one wants to see hundreds of balloons washing up on the beach. Certainly no one wants to see dead sea turtles or dead birds.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Rino wino Bill McSewer

    April 21, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    This would have been good for the environment.. that’s why the sick hogs voted it down.

  • David T. Hawkins

    April 21, 2023 at 2:51 pm

    I thought we already made it against the Law to release mass Balloons. We used to do at every FSU Football Game (and I think FAMU) until it was deemed harmful to the Environment and to the Birds. I remember when it got Banned.

    • It's Complicated

      April 24, 2023 at 11:22 am

      They did. The article addresses it. Current law forbids releasing more than 10 balloons in a 24-hour period. The proposal is to ban planned balloon releases completely.

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 24, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    These balloons were raised in captivity and had no clue how to survive, especially if they crossed the state line out of Florida. Just like Fleur Duh Gov Rhon Duh’s Panties.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704