The debate over fireworks has been reignited in the state senate. A bill to make it legal to sell and set off fireworks cleared a subcommittee this morning with the backing of Democratic Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo.
“If you look at the polling about fireworks, I think the majority of Iowans are in support of it,” Dotzler said.
Dotzler envisions making it legal to set off fireworks from Christmas Eve through the 3rd of January and in late June and early July — for the Independence Day holiday.
“People on the 4th of July like to celebrate the founding of our country and it’s always been a tradition across America and I think Iowa’s kind of ready for it,” Dotzler said.
The bill’s future is uncertain, however, as supporters have not agreed on the details, like exactly when it would be legal to sell fireworks in Iowa. Opponents have killed similar efforts to legalize fireworks over the past several years. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, said legalizing fireworks is unpopular in her district.
“I guess there’ll be a few 12 year olds around the state who’ll be disappointed with my vote,” Petersen said.
A brief public hearing at the statehouse today on the bill attracted two opponents and no supporters. Iowa Firefighters Association vice president Marv Trimble of Garrison said during his 35 year career, he’s responded to both fires and injuries caused by fireworks.
“First of all, you never know what it is usually because even if it is fireworks, people don’t say it’s fireworks when they call,” Trimble said. “…Most of the time people will not admit it was fireworks until everything else is eliminated as a cause and then they will admit: ‘Yeah, we were using fireworks.'”
Last year the Iowa House passed a bill legalizing fireworks in the state. House Republican Leader Chris Hagenow of Windsor Heights smiled today when reporters told him the issue had been revived in the Iowa Senate, but he’s wary of predicting ultimate victory s for fireworks supporters this year.
The only fireworks which are legal to sell and ignite in Iowa today are sparklers and snakes.