Ohio lawmakers could light the fuse for major changes to Ohio's fireworks law Wednesday morning, our affiliate WSYX/WTTE reported.
Members of the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee scheduled a possible vote on HB 226. If passed, the proposed bill would legalize bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, and other consumer-grade fireworks for private use starting in 2020.
As proposed, Ohioans could set off 1.4G fireworks on their property or someone else's property with permission potentially any day, year round. The bill allows cities, counties, and some townships to ban fireworks or set restrictions.
Additional changes proposed under HB 226 include:
- Requiring sellers to provide a safety pamphlet developed by the state fire marshal
- Imposing a 4% 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
- Currently, Ohioans can purchase fireworks, but buyers are supposed to take them out of the state within 48 hours. Setting off fireworks in Ohio is a first-degree misdemeanor, which can lead to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
"Ohio's consumer fireworks laws have gone substantially unchanged for more than two decades, and do not reflect the current realities of consumer fireworks use," Danial Pearl with Youngstown-based Phantom Fireworks wrote the committee in testimony supporting the bill. "Consumer fireworks are safer now than ever before."
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, the Ohio Fire Officials Association, and other.
"Fireworks are inherently dangerous, and we strongly encourage the committee to reject this latest attempt at legalization," Sherry Williams with Prevent Blindness Ohio wrote in prepared testimony. "Ohio's fireworks law is comparable to a highway speed limit. It is clearly posted, and we expect everyone to follow it."
HB 226 is sponsored by State Representatives Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Martin Sweeney, D-Cleveland.