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Ohio bill legalizing fireworks heading to a 2nd hearing in the state Senate

Posted at 11:19 PM, Feb 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-10 09:50:31-05

An Ohio bill that would essentially legalize fireworks in the state is now moving toward a second hearing in the Senate.

House Bill 226 cosponsor Rep. Martin Sweeney, (D) District 14, told News 5 he believes the measure would actually make fireworks safer, by giving local government oversight and implementing some key requirements and controls.

"The current law makes no sense," said Sweeney.

"Most important thing for me is local control, every municipality, township and city will have the ability to say absolutely not, or absolutely we want them."

The measure passed the house floor by an 83 to 11 vote in 2017 and has now moved to the Senate.

Sweeney said, if passed, the bill would be effective July 1, 2020, and would carry the following guidelines:

Eliminate the requirement that purchasers of consumer grade fireworks must transport those fireworks out of Ohio within 48 hours of purchase and allows those purchasers to possess those fireworks within Ohio. 

Allow any person authorized to possess consumer grade fireworks to discharge, ignite, or explode those fireworks on the person's own property or with the property owner's permission. 

Permit local governments to restrict the dates and times that a person may discharge, ignite, or explode consumer fireworks or ban the discharge, ignition, or explosion of those fireworks. 

Prohibit discharging, igniting, or exploding fireworks while in possession of or control of, or under the influence of, any intoxicating liquor, beer, or controlled substance or on the property of another without the owner's permission. 

Require a licensed manufacturer or licensed wholesaler who is selling consumer grade fireworks to have safety glasses available for free or at a nominal charge. 

Requires the State Fire Marshal to prepare a pamphlet that explains how to use consumer grade fireworks safely and to distribute the pamphlet to licensed wholesalers and manufacturers and requires wholesalers and manufacturers to distribute a copy to each consumer purchaser. 

But the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, Prevent Blindness Ohio, and other groups are sure to continue to fight the bill.

Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital Chief Surgeon, Dr. Edward Barksdale, told News 5 fireworks injuries in the United States continue to climb.

Barksdale believes HB 226 would facilitate even more fireworks accidents if it becomes law.

"There were about 8,500 in 2001, now we're seeing about 12,000 to 14,000," said Barksdale.

"To think that we would legalize something that really puts a large part of our population at risk."

Barksdale believes there will be plenty of opposition to the measure in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Sweeney believes the bill could be ready for a final vote as early as this summer.