Ohio senator vies for statewide fireworks legalization, opponents argue the bill opens door to more injuries

Opponents say it could put your family in danger.
Updated: May. 29, 2019 at 6:11 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Major changes could be coming to Ohio's fireworks laws.

Right now you can buy fireworks in the state, but you can’t discharge them.

State Senator Dave Burke, co-sponsor of Senate Bill 72, wrote this in a testimony letter:

"I am disappointed each and every year when I cannot legally and honestly discharge fireworks as a means of celebrating with my family, friends and neighbors."

Burke said current law doesn’t provide the state with enough resources to educate Ohioans, so the bill would require that retailers hand out a safety pamphlet to people buying fireworks.

He said he would work with the State Fire Marshal’s Office to make the state safer.

Opponents testified against the bill Wednesday at the state capitol, either in person or through written testimony.

They included a representative from Prevent Blindness, a doctor, a veteran suffering from PTSD and a local firefighter.

"Passage of SB 72 would result in a statewide declaration that fireworks are not dangerous; the statistics say otherwise,” said Dr. Bill Cotton with the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There were about 13,000 serious injuries from fireworks last year.

Many of those hurt were children.

Three years ago, Euclid Fire Captain Jay Northup was lighting off fireworks in his backyard when a mortar exploded right in his face.

“I'm human and I make mistakes, just like everybody else, and this one just so happened that it almost killed me,” he said in an interview last summer.

“Personally, it's the kids and making sure I don't have to pick up any kids that are permanently disfigured or permanently injured,” Northup said.

Northup wrote in testimony on Wednesday: “It's not worth it. Legalizing the discharge of fireworks will only lead to more injuries like mine."

If the bill passes, cities and towns could still restrict or ban fireworks.

There would be a 4% fireworks safety fee on the gross sale of all fireworks in the state.

That would go toward firefighter training and regulating the fireworks industry.

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