Measure to legalize fireworks in Ohio stalled


Staff report

COLUMBUS

The Ohio Senate has yet to act on a measure sponsored by state Rep. John Boccieri , D-Poland, to legalize the sale and use of consumer fireworks in the state starting in 2020.

House Bill 226, approved in the House of Representatives last fall, would establish a legislative study committee that is tasked with making recommendations on storage, licensing and manufacturing facilities by the end of 2019, in time for the legalization to take effect. The Ohio Senate referred the bill to the Government Oversight and Reform Committee but hasn’t acted on the measure.

“This legislation takes a sensible approach in moving cautiously toward the legalization of these celebratory devices,” Boccieri said. “Let’s not kid ourselves, many Ohioans already find ways to cross state lines to buy fireworks every Fourth of July and set them off around their neighborhoods. By making fireworks legal, we are allowing the Legislature to establish best practices for their use to ensure that we prioritize safety and minimize accidents.”

Forty-four other states already allow for the purchase and use of fireworks, including all but Pennsylvania adjacent to Ohio.

HB 226 does make setting off a firework while intoxicated illegal and requires that private property owners grant permission for fireworks to be used on their property. Local governments also retain the ability under the legislation to enact their own stricter restrictions on the use of consumer fireworks.

In addition to legalizing fireworks, HB 226 creates a Fireworks Fee Receipt Fund financed through a 4 percent fee on the retail sale of consumer grade fireworks. The fund will support firefighter training programs and regulation of firework use and the industry in general.

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