(The Center Square) – The Fourth of July for Ohioans could come with a little more bang in 2022 if the General Assembly comes together on a pair of bills that would move the state closer to legalizing the discharge of fireworks.
While coming up short of allowing fireworks throughout the state, House Bill 253 would allow cities to legalize fireworks over July 3, 4 and 5, and it requires the state fire marshal to develop rules on how and when fireworks can be used. House Bill 172, which passed the House on Thursday, removes the statewide ban on the discharge of fireworks.
“Every year, the 4th of July is marked with family picnics and parades as a way to celebrate our nation’s birthday and the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans,” Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-Winchester, said. “Even with all this, each and every year brings disappointment when Ohio’s citizens cannot legally and honestly discharge fireworks as a means of celebrating with family, friends and neighbors.”
Ohioans legally can buy fireworks in the state but cannot set them off, but that rarely seems to stop them. Discharging fireworks in the state is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Baldridge’s bill adds a 4% fireworks safety fee on the gross sale of fireworks and creates the Ohio Fire Code Rule Recommendation Committee to advise in the rulemaking for fireworks.
The safety fee would go toward providing the state fire marshal to design fireworks safety material, increase enforcement and regulation on the fireworks industry and help supplement the cost of firefighter training classes for local fire departments.
The state fire marshal’s office also would be required to design a fireworks safety pamphlet for retailers to use at points of sale to educate consumers on safety precautions.
HB 172 now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.