Lawmaker Calls for End to Iowa's Fireworks Ban

Fireworks. (file photo)


By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa —A fire that destroyed much of Spencer back in the 1930s led lawmakers to ban the sale of fireworks in Iowa.

Now more than 80 years later, a major push is on to legalize them again. It began Monday when a state senator representing Davis, Jefferson, Van Buren and Wapello counties in southern Iowa submitted his bill proposing the legal sale of fireworks in Iowa.

Sen. Mark Chelgren is trying to reignite the sale of fireworks in Iowa.

"Whenever you have a law that no one puts a high priority on to enforce and no one respects, you should consider removing it," said Chelgren.

His bill proposes the sale be restricted to individuals 18 and over and would be regulated by county boards and city councils.

The sales tax revenue from fireworks sales would go back to equipment for local fire departments.

Des Moines Fire Inspector Mike O'Keefe said he couldn't talk about this specific bill, but he has concerns about the safety of children who could get access to legal fireworks.

O'Keefe said firefighters are watching the legislation to see how it progresses.

Sen. Jack Hatch said he has seen the bill and said it would not get his support. He said the idea has potential, but not in the bill submitted by Chelgren.

"It just opens it up that it basically allows anybody over 18 years of age to buy and sell fireworks and that's not the way we do it here," said Hatch.

Chelgren said he hopes Hatch is in the minority of lawmakers. He wants to get the bill passed and start fireworks sales in Iowa by June 1.

"I think this is very positive and has potential to be supported by both sides, but in an election year you never know what's going to happen," said Chelgren.

The bill is currently in committee. Hatch said over the last few decades a senator from southern Iowa at some point each year has proposed legalizing fireworks sale in the state.

He said he expects this latest bill to spur discussion, but not get passed.

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