A proposed ban on helium-filled foil balloons has withered in the California Legislature in the face of vehement protests from manufacturers, decorators and florists. Its backer, Sen. Jack Scott, initially argued that such balloons caused more than 800 power outages in California last year by hitting and then short-circuiting power lines. Scott has now proposed a compromise that would toughen existing state law requiring weights and warnings be attached to helium-filled metallic balloons. The new plan would raise the penalty from $100 to $250 for each violation of the law. He also called for a privately funded study to find an alternative to foil balloons.