Is it time to legalize fireworks in Ohio? - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Is it time to legalize fireworks in Ohio?

(Chris Miller/Flikr) (Chris Miller/Flikr)
FOX19 -

Despite what you might see your neighbors doing on holidays, those roman candles, bottle rockets and other fireworks are illegal, but an Ohio bill could legalize them by July 1, 2020 just in time for Independence Day.

A bill piggybacking off of a failed 2014 attempt in the state Senate to end one of the Ohio's most violated laws — allowing the possession and use of consumer-grade fireworks.

On Wednesday, the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee voted 11-1 in favor of House Bill 226, sponsored by State Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and State Rep. Martin Sweeney (D-Cleveland).

“The current law makes no sense and reminds me of another law that made no sense. That being 3.2 beer,” Rep. Sweeney said.

“Either you allow fireworks or not. You allow 18-year-olds to drink beer or not. The only way to get rid of fireworks is to outlaw fun and enjoyment, which I don’t think is happening anytime soon.”

If passed, the bill would:

  • Require sellers to provide a safety pamphlet developed by the state fire marshal
  • Imposing a 4 percent fee to fund firefighter training and fireworks industry regulation
  • Establishing a 13-member study group (lawmakers, fireworks industry representatives, along with fire, police, and health officials) to recommend other regulations
  • Extending the moratorium on licenses to manufacture and sell fireworks to 2020

Ohio consumers are already using fireworks despite the prohibition. Seitz says the current laws are ineffective.

“Are you tired of being complicit in state law that makes liars out of thousands of Ohioans who can purchase consumer-grade fireworks in Ohio only if they attest that they will be discharged out of state? We are,” Seitz said.

Critics of the bill include the Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition, which is comprised of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio State Medical Association and the Ohio Fire Officials Association. They argue lifting the fireworks ban is too dangerous.

“We believe the repeal of the current law sends the wrong message to Ohioans and will lead to an increase in fireworks discharge, property damage and injury to both individuals igniting the fireworks and individuals minding their own business,” Sherill Williams, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio wrote in a prepared testimony.

The bill heads to the House floor for a vote. 

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