Iowa Senate Committee Passes Fireworks Legalization Bill

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A bill that would legalize the sale of fireworks in Iowa is moving forward at the Statehouse.

After a long discussion Wednesday, the bill passed a Senate committee.

"As a firefighter myself, it's time, when it comes to fireworks, to balance both economic freedom and public safety," said Sen. Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls). "We do that with a host of consumer products that have associated risks with them. And fireworks is the only product that we treat the way we do."

Currently, Iowans can only buy novelties such as sparklers.The bill would allow people in the state to buy full fireworks such as firecrackers and roman candles. The Iowa House and Senate passed separate bills last session to legalize the sale of fireworks in the state, but they could not come to an agreement on the version of the bill before the session ended.

The Iowa House and Senate passed separate bills last session to legalize the sale of fireworks in the state, but they could not come to an agreement on the version of the bill before the session ended.

A bill passed in a Senate committee Wednesday 10-5, but with an added amendment Sen. Danielson calls a "poison pill." His colleague, Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), introduced an "opt-in" provision to the bill which would require all cities and communities in the state to choose if they'd like to for fireworks to be legalized. Danielson said this provision would make the bill virtually pointless, as there would be no change in state law.

"It's just an unworkable, unenforceable provision which means we have no law in the first place," Danielson said. "It's a poison pill. My version has opt-out. Set the state law, provide the responsibility for the fire marshall, have a revenue stream to manage the permitting process. And then, if a community doesn't want to do it, in my bill they can opt-out."

Because the bill passed in its committee, it is now floor eligible, and can be brought up for debate and a vote at any time during this legislative session. Sen. Danielson says this is the closest Iowa has gotten to putting a fireworks bill on Gov. Terry Branstad's desk.

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