New N.J. bill: Tie a birthday balloon to a picnic table? Leave it unattended? Pay $2,000 fine.

TRENTON, N.J. – Let’s say you’re having a summer birthday party for your child in the backyard or at a local swim club. You ties some helium-filled birthday balloons to a table during the set up phase and then leave to go pick up the birthday cake.

If one of the balloons gets lose? And a neighborhood Karen reports you? You could be looking at $2,000 civil penalty… for a single balloon? That’s if the latest bill from Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-11) of Monmouth County ever becomes law. 

Introduced Monday, the legislation (A-4322) provides that…

No person shall intentionally release a balloon or other floating device outdoors except for:

     (1)   a balloon released for scientific or meteorological purposes, on behalf of a government agency or pursuant to a government contract; or

     (2)   a hot air balloon that is recovered after launching.

    1. No person shall tether a balloon or other floating device outdoors and intentionally leave it unattended except for:

     (1)   a balloon tethered to be released for scientific or meteorological purposes, on behalf of a government agency or pursuant to a government contract; or

     (2)   a hot air balloon tethered prior to launching or after being recovered from launching.

The penalties would be sky-high.

A violation of subsection (a) would cost you $1,000 for each offense (each balloon?). 

Subsection (b) is even more expensive: $2,000 per offense.

“Balloon or other floating device” is defined as, per the bill’s statement, an “inflated balloon, sky lantern, aerial luminary lantern, or any other device capable of floating in air and, if untethered, capable of floating out of the control of the person who tethered the device.”

This is real life, folks.