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Senate rejects bill to let local governments regulate fireworks sales

The state Senate on Monday narrowly rejected a bill that would give local governments the authority to ban sales of fireworks made legal under a state law that took effect last year.

The current law allows local governments to ban the use of those fireworks but prohibits them from banning sales.

Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, author of SB 1388, said he brought the measure forward at the request of constituents in Yavapai and Coconino counties who are wary of fires.

“I have people in my district that do not want fireworks,” Pierce told lawmakers as the measure fell on a 17-12 vote. “There were no fires this year. It was in December. I guarantee there’s going to be fire somewhere down the road.”

Fireworks allowed under the law include sparklers, cylindrical and cone and fountains, illuminating torches, wheels and spinners and toy smoke devices.

In addition to allowing municipalities to regulate the sale of such fireworks, Pierce’s bill would have allowed counties with populations of less than 3 million to regulate the sale of fireworks in unincorporated areas. Counties with 3 million or more residents could do so only if there is a reasonable risk of wildfire.

Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, has authored a similar bill, SB 1379, that among other things would allow municipalities and counties to assess fees to fireworks sellers. He said he doesn’t want to see fireworks regulated, pointing out that fireworks would be the first legal product regulated by local authority.

“I think it’s a dangerous path when we could work out a compromise with 1379,” he said.

Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who voted against the bill, said the sale of fireworks provides a financial benefit to the state.

“I think it would be a shame to curtail that,” Biggs said in explaining his vote, “especially in the certain areas that we’re concerned with, where there already is regulation over those state and national forests.”

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, warned against setting different restrictions on rural and metropolitan areas.

“This bifurcates different standards between rural and metropolitan areas,” Gould said, explaining his dissenting vote. “Previously that’s bothered people.”

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