Saying cities in his district are worried about the threat of forest fires, a state lawmaker wants to give municipalities authority to ban the sale of fireworks made legal under a state law that took effect last year.
The law allows municipalities to ban the use of those fireworks but prohibits them from banning their sale.
“I brought this bill forward because the cities in my area, northern Arizona, are afraid of forest fires,” said Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott. “They were upset with me for voting for this last year.”
The Senate Natural Resources and Transportation Committee unanimously approved the bill Monday, but some of those who voted in favor were lukewarm at best in their support, saying they may well vote against the measure on the floor.
The law, which took effect in December, made legal ground and handheld sparklers, cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, illuminating torches, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, toy smoke devices and wire sparklers. The law allowed incorporated municipalities to ban the use of those devices, and many have done so.
Pierce’s bill also would add to counties’ authority to regulate fireworks within unincorporated areas based on population. Counties with populations of less than 3 million residents would have the authority to regulate the sale of fireworks without the prerequisite of a reasonable risk of wildfire in the area. Counties with more than 3 million residents would be allowed to regulate the use of fireworks only if a reasonable risk of wildfire exists.
Michelle Ahlmer, executive director of Arizona Retailers Association, told the committee that retailers were elated when the law went into effect. She said Pierce’s bill would make selling fireworks unnecessarily problematic.
“As with most laws, if there was one standard that we can follow, life is beautiful,” Ahlmer said. “It’s difficult enough with the ability for the cities to determine use and layer on that the ability of them to determine sale.”
Fireworks-industry lobbyist Mike Williams objected strongly to the bill, saying that having different regulations by municipality would be “a logistical nightmare.” After the hearing, he said he was confident Pierce’s bill would fail.
“This bill is dead on the floor,” Williams said.
Fireworks legal under the law:
• Ground and hand?held sparkling devices
• Cylindrical fountains
• Cone fountains
• Illuminating torches
• Ground spinners
• Flitter sparklers
• Toy smoke devices
• Wire sparklers or dipped sticks
• Multiple tube fireworks devices and pyrotechnic articles