The debate over the use of fireworks in Sioux City has turned to a discussion of a public vote on the issue after several residents for and against the use of fireworks spoke at Monday’s city council meeting.
Brent Watchorn told the city council the decision should be put to a vote of the people. “My proposal would be if you are actually going to try and ban anything or change the ordinance in any way — why not open it up to a citywide vote? Because the fact is, I’m sorry, we don’t get a full population opinion here,” Watchorn says. “I believe the city should be able to vote on what they believe should be done, whether it be a ban or loosening the regulations.”
Council member Rhonda Capron favors cutting the time fireworks are allowed to be used in half starting July 1st instead of June 25th. “I think that that would be fair, we could accommodate everybody,” she says. “But the bottom line folks is that it is common sense. And it is also being responsible for yourself.”
Mayor Bob Scott asked City Attorney Nicole Dubois for her opinion on whether a local public vote would be legal under the new state fireworks law. “The answer is I’d have to research that. I believe that the council can direct what they would like to have voted on. I don’t believe that this is a reverse referendum action where the general citizenry of the city can ask to have it put on a ballot. But that is something we will have to look at too,” according to Dubois.
The state law says a city council may by ordinance or resolution prohibit or limit fireworks use. It does not make reference to a public vote. Dubois says she will study the issue and report back to the council with her opinion on if a public vote on fireworks is legal.
The issue would be placed on the November ballot before the New Year’s fireworks session takes place. The Sioux City council did vote to eliminate the local permit and inspection process of fireworks retail outlets pending a state court decision on the process.
(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)