A bill addressing the issue has cleared procedural hurdles and is eligible for debate at any time in the Iowa Senate. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says northwest Iowans look across the border at South Dakota, where fireworks displays on private property have been legal for years.
“We see everyone blowing them off, technically illegally, and I’ve always said there needs to be regulation in Iowa that either gets rid of them altogether or fully allows them to be sold and blown off,” Feenstra says.
It is illegal to light fireworks in Iowa without a permit from city or county officials. In addition, it’s illegal to sell fireworks in Iowa. The bill pending in the senate would erase those obstacles and set up a system for licensing and regulating businesses that sell fireworks and assessing a sales tax on fireworks sales.
“We’re simply saying, ‘Hey since they’re allowed in the state at this point, now let’s allow them to be set off,'” Feenstra says. If the bill advances through the Senate and the House this year, sales of consumer fireworks could start in June.
The legislation would make it legal to sell and ignite fireworks during limited holiday periods, like the 4th of July, Christmas and New Year’s. The bill would give cities and counties the option of passing local ordinances that forbid fireworks displays.