Nebraska senators advance ban on celebratory flying lanterns

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A bill to outlaw small, flame-powered paper air balloons in Nebraska has sped through first round debate in the Legislature.

Lawmakers voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance the measure.

The bill’s advocates say the lanterns create dangerous fire hazards if they land in neighborhoods or dry fields. If the bill passes, violators would face a $100 fine. The lanterns are made of flame-retardant paper and lifted by hot air from open flames at their bases. They’re often released into the sky at memorials or celebrations. Hot air balloons large enough to carry people would not be included in the ban.

Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo has designated the bill his priority this session.

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