The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 18, 2014

Fireworks bill 'dead' in the state Legislature

CLINTON -- There’s a reason why this area is known as “The Gateway.” Coming off of either the North or South bridge, commuters get their first taste of Iowa in Clinton’s city limits.

Following Friday’s state legislation deadline, Clinton Fire Chief Mike Brown feared the community may become a gateway for something else. A bill introduced in the Senate would have lifted the state’s ban on consumer fireworks. However, State Sen. Rita Hart said Monday night that the bill was “dead” as far as her branch was concerned.

“The Senate bill SF2294 died in committee,” Hart said via email. “I know that there is movement in the House to add their bill to Ways and Means, but this bill is officially dead in the Senate.”

It’s a good sign in Brown’s case, as he was leery of the bill’s enforcement as a city bordering a state (Illinois) with such a ban.

“Obviously as a public safety agency, consumer fireworks like that aren’t safe,” Brown said Monday. “They’re going to fall into the hands of kids. We can’t even control the firework problem we have right now.”

The bill, known as Senate File 2294, allows citizens to possess, use, sell, transfer and purchase fireworks and would correspond with kickback for fire departments if passed. Other portions of the bill stated those departments would receive sales tax revenues from fireworks purchases through a “fire equipment fund.” The bill defined three fireworks categories and allowed for the sale of “novelty” (or “toy”) and “consumer” (complying with U.S. product safety commission) fireworks.

Brown said those extra revenues would be “great” for local fire departments. They’re going to need the extra help to enforce and regulate fireworks usage.

“Every year there’s a huge mass of fireworks going off anywhere,” Brown said. “I don’t think there’s anything in the legislation about the selling season, how long they’re going to sell them. They haven’t contacted anyone from the border cities on sales. It’s a hastily made decision.”

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