Fireworks revamp heads to House floor

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An effort to allow people to legally set off fireworks on three days, without a pretense for buying the explosives, is now ready to be heard on the House floor.

The House Commerce Committee on Thursday voted 17-5 to support the proposal (HB 65), which seeks to allow people 18 and older to buy fireworks to use on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Independence Day, days when fireworks are particularly popular.

The proposal wouldn’t prevent local rules regarding fireworks and would eliminate the need for people to declare why they are buying fireworks if solely for use during the three days.

Relatively innocuous devices such as sparklers are legal to buy. But devices such as firecrackers, torpedoes and roman candles are off limits. People, however, can buy the explosives if they sign a waiver saying they will use the fireworks for certain agricultural purposes, specifically for “frightening birds from agricultural work” and fish hatcheries.

“It’s something that’s completely outdated,” said bill sponsor Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral. “You’re basically perjuring yourself every time you purchase fireworks, because you’re signing a paper that most people, I would say everyone, doesn’t use for that purpose.”

Before the vote, Rodriguez removed Memorial Day from the list of proposed days people could set off fireworks. The removal of Memorial Day brought Rodriguez’ proposal in line with the Senate version (SB 140), which has passed its committees and is ready for floor action.

State lawmakers over the years have tried and failed to amend the fireworks law, with proposals including a repeal of the ban and making changes to the legal waiver to purchase fireworks.