Thursday, March 22, 2007

Up, Up, and Away in my Dumb-Ass Law

I’ve added emphasis to this New Hampshire Union Leader story:

It's $250 a pop for a balloon on the loose

CONCORD, NH – People will want to hold onto their balloons if the
Senate agrees with a House vote yesterday to ban balloon releases.

By a vote of 215 to 111, the House approved a bill that treats balloon
releases as a form of littering.

HB 62 originally barred the release of two dozen or more
lighter-than-air balloons.
The version that passed yesterday could bring a
$250 fine for even a single balloon let loose. A second offense could bring a
$500 fine. The bill specifically exempts hot air balloons, weather balloons and
others released as part of scientific research.

The bill does not penalize accidental releases.

Those who favored the bill said the balloon materials, including the
attached strings and ribbons, pose a serious threat to wildlife. Whales, turtles
and seabirds that live along New Hampshire's coastline mistakenly eat floating
balloons thinking they are food, and then are unable to eat real food.

"Do we now get balloon police?" Rep. Randolph Holden,
R-Goffstown, asked.

Rep. Kevin Waterhouse, R-Windham, said police officers would be
given enforcement responsibility. A move to give the job to Fish and Game
officers was rejected, since the department is under budget pressure

He said people need to be aware that balloon releases cause real harm
to wildlife.

"It doesn't just go to heaven and disappear. It comes back down again,"
Waterhouse said.
Waterhouse said he was inspired to sponsor the bill by a
group of homeschoolers studying ecology.

This is another example of a great idea but an inefficient use of police resources.

How many citations are police going to give for loose balloons? Nearly none.
Soooo… what actual good does it do? Not much.

But what it does accomplish is to authorize every bee-in-the-bonnet crotchety caller to report illegal balloon deployments.

Before you complain that actual police officers will be sent to balloon calls before they are sent to a real call, it would almost never happen. The actual extra work would be in the communications centers.

I’d bet that the Emergency Communications staffs all over New Hampshire have nothing better to do than take balloon calls.


No comments: