STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Legislation advancing in the Virginia Senate would prohibit releasing lighter than-air balloons into the atmosphere. The measure’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jeff McWaters of Virginia Beach, says balloons are fouling the state’s beaches and can be deadly to wildlife. His bill would ban the intentional release of balloons that are inflated with helium or another lighter-than-air gas and require more than five minutes’ contact with air or water to degrade. Violations would carry a civil penalty of $5 per balloon, with proceeds going into the Litter Control and Recycling Fund. The measure would supersede an existing law that bans release of 50 or more balloons in a one-hour period. McWaters’ bill cleared the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee on a 9-6 vote Thursday and is headed to the full Senate.