Capitol Alert

California balloons can keep on flying, Gov. Brown says

Party on, California. Gov. Jerry Brown won’t make it a crime to let go of your balloon.

On Monday, Brown’s office announced that he vetoed Assembly Bill 1091, legislation that sought to prohibit release of all balloons except those made of latex – essentially the kind you blow up yourself – beginning next year.

California already prohibits letting fly Mylar balloons with a metallic finish, but the bill by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, would have extended the ban to anyone who willfully releases any Mylar balloons outdoors.

Quirk, a former climate change scientist at NASA, and no fan of releasing balloons, told The Bee this spring that, “Balloons often end up where they are not supposed to be, and that can cause serious problems in our communities.”

But Brown, in his veto message, said he doesn’t believe expanded criminal activity is the best answer to the problem of so-called electrically conductive balloons interfering with power lines. Brown reiterated his belief that the Penal Code is already too complex, and unnecessarily proscriptive.

To the delight of clumsy balloon handlers, and to the deflation of Quirk and his backers, the Democratic governor concluded: “Criminal penalties are not the solution to every problem.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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