PORTSMOUTH, R.I. \u2014 The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday on legislation introduced by Representative Susan Donovan.\u00a0 The legislation attempts to protect the environment and wildlife by banning the intentional release of balloons into the air.\n\nBalloons not only pose a significant threat to wildlife, they are a nuisance to commercial fishermen and cause dangerous power outages. Most recently on January 12 of this year, a stray mylar balloon caused a power outage that left over 2.500 customers without electricity.\n\nAll released balloons, including those falsely marketed as biodegradable end up as litter on our waterways and landscapes. Animals, attracted by their vibrant colors and shapes, mistake them for food causing injury or death to countless sea and land creatures each year.\n\nAccording to Save The Bay, the plastic remains of 737 balloons were found along Rhode Island\u2019s shoreline during its statewide cleanup in September 2018.\u00a0 Dead sea creatures continually wash up on our shores, their stomachs filled with plastic debris or bodies tangled in the strings of released balloons.\n\nThe bill (2020-H 7261), which is modeled after legislation proposed in New Jersey, would prohibit any intentional release of balloons, except for scientific or meteorological purposes with government permission, hot air balloon launches and indoor releases. Each violation would be punishable by a fine of up to $500 per offense, although releases of multiple balloons at once would be considered a single offense.\n\nThe bill has widespread support from environmental groups across Rhode Island and Fishermen\u2019s Associations.\u00a0 Norbert Stamps, who supports the legislation, is Vice President of the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen\u2019s Association, Executive Board member of the Commercial Fishermen\u2019s Research Foundation, Board Member of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine and past president of the RI Lobstermen\u2019s Association.\n\nIn 2018, the New Shoreham Town Council passed an ordinance banning the sale of balloons on Block Island as a means of addressing this issue. Representative Donovan\u2019s bill would not prohibit balloon sales, only the outdoor release of balloons.