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Ky. House passes bill to make fireworks legal

by WHAS11 News


Posted on March 1, 2011 at 11:32 PM

   LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Kentucky House has passed a bill that would make most fireworks legal and available to residents. The bill would allow the sale and use of fireworks that explode or shoot up into the air. Many of these fireworks have been banned in Kentucky since at least 1982, which means a lot of people travel to either Indiana or Tennessee to buy them.

Bill sponsor Rep. Johnny Bell (D-Glasgow) said Kentuckians are already buying illegal fireworks, so the state should make it legal.

It is a rite of summer as Kentucky residents cross the border to Indiana or Tennessee to buy fireworks in the bordering states.

"There could be as much as $3 million per biennium that's lost through taxation on fireworks that's being bought outside the state of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," Bell said, "versus what can be bought inside the state.  So, I think that's important."

As Kentucky law is currently written, fireworks that explode or fly are illegal in Kentucky.  But, under the measure that sailed through the House on Monday, those display fireworks could be sold legally in Kentucky.

Though fire departments have often pointed to the restrictions as a sign of the dangers of bottle rockets and roman candles, Bell says House Bill 333 is a safety measure because it would also create uniform standards for the sale and storage of fireworks. 
Bell pointed to fires in recent years at fireworks facilities as evidence of the need for more oversight of what is being sold.

"What happened was firefighters, our first responders come on the scene during this warehouse that's engulfed in flames, they have no idea what's inside of it," Bell said.

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) said she is co-sponsoring the bill for the safety provisions, yet but may want to reconsider the expansion of what fireworks are legal.

"I think we need to give this some experience and see how it works and get the data from Children's Hospital and emergency rooms if this has helped," Marzian explained, "If this has reduced the amount of fireworks injuries, then maybe this is the right way to go."
The bill would create a $250-dollar fee for seasonal retailers to sell consumer fireworks and a $500-dollar fee for year-round retailers.

The permit fees would go to the State Fire Marshal's office to fund education and enforcement of fireworks laws. 

While the bill skyrocketed through the House, in the Senate, it appears to be a dud, a Senate Republican spokeswoman suggesting it is not a priority in the Senate.