COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Senate passed a bill that would allow individuals to possess consumer-grade fireworks in the state, which would eliminate the requirement that purchasers transport them from Ohio within 48 hours of their purchase.
But don’t plan for a booming July 4th.
Senate Bill 113, which passed 26 to 7, now heads to the Ohio House, where it will be debated in committee hearings before it reaches the floor. If it passes, the bill specifies it doesn’t become effective for 351 days after the governor signs it and files the legislation with the Ohio Secretary of State.
Under SB 113, people could blow off fireworks during the following holiday periods:
-New Year’s Day
-Chinese New Year
-Cinco de Mayo;
-Memorial Day weekend
-July 3, 4, and 5
-And the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays preceding and following Labor Day weekend; Diwali and New Year’s Eve
Local governments would be able to restrict the dates and times that people may discharge fireworks, and even impose complete bans on them, the bill states.
The bill imposes a 4% fee on the retail sale of consumer-grade fireworks beginning 100 days after the bill’s effective date. The fee would fund firefighter training programs, as well as pay for the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s regulation and enforcement of the fireworks industry.
SB 113 would allow retailers to increase their floor area for consumer-grade fireworks from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. Fireworks wholesalers, manufactures and retailers would be required to have safety glasses for free or at a nominal charge for customers, as well as distribute a safety pamphlet to each purchaser.
People who violate the safety glasses and pamphlet provisions in the bill would be guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor under the bill.
Over 40 states allow people to possess and set off consumer-grade fireworks. The remaining states, such as Ohio, have limited consumer-grade fireworks sales and bans.
Ohio’s bill creates a committee to study fireworks and the fire code and make recommendations to the State Fire Marshal’s office. It’s responsible, said bill sponsor Rep. Michael Rulli, a Mahoning Valley Republican.
“I like to call (current law) the liar law because what happens is you go into the fireworks store, you purchase fireworks and then you lie to everybody and tell them you’re going to Kentucky or West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, or Indiana,” he said. “Then you go into your backyard and celebrate being an American.”
Sen. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, noted that many people testified against the bill, with concerns about property damage, public safety, pets and the negative impact on combat veterans and others who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The question of whether to legalize these more powerful fireworks is a matter of a better quality of life,” she said.
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