California bill aims to ban metallic balloons to reduce power outages

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A bill proposed by California Assemblyman Bill Quirk aims to ban the sale and distribution of foil-covered balloons, which allegedly tangle with power lines and cause hundreds of power outages each year.

Metallic balloons are a big business in California, some 22,000 retailers sell them, bringing in more than $250 million in sales.

"People come in here and they want the foil balloons. They don't want the latex balloons," according to Amanda Armstrong, who works at Top Hat Balloon Werks in Costa Mesa.

But now those sales are in jeopardy.

"Forty percent of my sales are foil balloons, and if they take that away that will devastate me," Francie Rosen of Balloons Sound Great said.

California Assemblyman Bill Quirk is proposing a bill to ban foil-covered balloons from California because it turns out, those shiny balloons end up being released into the air and tangled in power lines, often leading to power outages affecting thousands of customers.

"These outages do more than just turn the lights out for a few hours - they cost millions of dollars and also put the electrical workers at risk when having to repair damage or remove balloons stranded on high-voltage cables," Quirk said in a statement.

Meanwhile, many business owners are outraged and opposed to the proposed law, citing lost revenue.

"I understand that but the problem is you're outlawing a whole product and a whole line and it's a lot of money and a lot of businesses that rely on that," Armstrong said.

Retailers says instead of banning foil-covered balloons, lawmakers need to educate the public about the current law in place for some 20 years that makes it illegal to release foil-covered balloons.

"If they were to let us know that we can't release them, we would just pop them and throw them in the trash instead of releasing them out into the air. This is new to me. I had no idea," Zavala said.

If passed into law, the bill would prohibit the sale of metallic balloons after 2018.
Related Topics:
politicsenvironmentpower outageballoonbusinesssalesCalifornia
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