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Fireworks Restrictions Proposed In Pa.

Legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would crack down on the sale of consumer fireworks.

“Since the passage of Act 43 of 2017, which authorized the sale of consumer fireworks to Pennsylvania residents, complaints of inappropriate fireworks usage have been rampant across the Commonwealth,” a group of legislators write in a co-sponsorship memorandum.

Those representatives include Peter Schweyer, Jeanne McNeill and Mike Schlossberg, Democrats from Lehigh County as well as Robert Freeman, a Northampton County Democrat and Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat.

“Prior to the enactment of this legislation, in-state residents were only authorized to purchase novelty fireworks, such as sparklers and spinners,” they write. “Act 43 was passed, in part, to allow Commonwealth residents to enjoy using more powerful fireworks and as a revenue source for the state.

“Unfortunately, too many citizens have chosen to use the fireworks irresponsibly. Far too often, I hear reports of fireworks being set off near homes and buildings and at all hours of the night, which is disconcerting to many individuals, especially those who are sensitive to loud noises.”

The legislators say that the bill — now known as HB 988 — would “repeal the most recent changes made to the fireworks law and reinstate the provisions as they existed prior to the passage of Act 43.”

They were clear to point out what this legislation would not do.

“Nothing in this legislation would prohibit Pennsylvania residents from using novelty fireworks or enjoying display fireworks that are set off at community events to celebrate July 4th and other holidays,” they write.

The bill was referred to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee last Friday.

Consumer fireworks are defined as “any combustible or explosive composition or any substance or combination of substances intended to produce visible or audible effects by combustion” as well as “(a)erial devices and audible ground devices.”

The consumer fireworks that are now permitted for sale that the legislation would repeal do not include “ground” devices or “handheld sparkling devices.”

Use of fireworks made illegal under the legislation would bring a fine of up to $500 for a first offense with escalating penalties from there. Selling consumer fireworks would bring a misdemeanor charge wily selling display fireworks would be a felony.The legislation permits municipal governments to require a bond from a person who holds a permit to use consumer or display fire works “for the payment of all damages which may be caused to a person or property by reason of the fireworks display.”

A total of seven uses are identified for the use of consumer and display permits — a fireworks display, agricultural purposes in connection with the raising of crops and the protection of crops from bird and animal damage, by railroads or other transportation agencies for signal purposes or illumination, in quarrying or for blasting or other industrial use, blank cartridges for a show or theater, including the sale of blank cartridges for a show or theater, signal or ceremonial purposes in athletics or sports and by military organizations or organizations composed of veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

“Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit a facility licensed under this chapter from selling consumer fireworks, including the year-round sale of consumer fireworks, to an out-of-state resident whose status is verified to the licensee,” the legislation states, “and the consumer fireworks are transported directly out of State by the seller or purchaser.”

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