House bill clears hurdle, brings Ohio closer to legalizing fireworks

Current law allows Ohio residents to purchase fireworks in the state but they are required to take them out of the state within 48 hours

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COLUMBUS (WKBN/AP) — We see them every Fourth of July and the days before and after, in many cases — bright explosions of color that brighten the sky over our neighborhoods.

Fireworks are synonymous with freedom and our independence and yet, they are illegal to set off in Ohio.

You can buy them, you can transport them, but you can’t enjoy them — at least for now.

Current law allows Ohio residents to purchase fireworks in the state but they are required to take them out of the state within 48 hours.

House Bill 226 would change that, allowing for the legalization and regulation of fireworks in the state.

State Representatives Martin Sweeney and Bill Seitz are sponsoring the bi-partisan bill that passed the House this week.

It did not get unanimous support, passing 83 to 14. Still, Sweeney is encouraged and hopeful it will make it through the Senate.

It would bring the power of deciding whether fireworks will be allowed in communities back to the local level.

Seitz said local officials would be able to ban fireworks “if they want to be un-American about it.”

The bill also provides for educational opportunities with fire professionals to educate neighborhoods about the proper use of them.

Sweeney said the moratorium on fireworks that has been perpetuated by the legislature for the past three decades was ill-conceived and an example of a useless, unenforceable law.

The bill also lays the groundwork for bringing the manufacturing of fireworks to Ohio.

Sweeney said the technology involved in firework creation is far safer than it was decades ago and he’s not overly concerned about potential mishaps.

The bill does prohibit people from setting off fireworks while drinking or using drugs and fireworks sellers would be required to distribute safety information.

If passed, the bill would create a committee that would work out what legislative issues would need to be addressed for the storage, licensing, and manufacturing of fireworks by the end of 2019 so that those laws could be in place before fireworks would become legal in 2020.

The bill will be assigned to a Senate committee in the coming weeks.

It will become law if it passes the state Senate and receives a signature from Republican Gov. John Kasich.

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