Despite opposition, bill to legalize fireworks may advance

A number of public health groups are opposed to bill that would make setting off commercial fireworks legal.

A controversial bill to legalize fireworks in Ohio could win approval in a House committee this week but opponents are rallying the forces to push back.

House Bill 226, which is scheduled to receive a committee vote Wednesday, would make possessing and lighting off consumer grade fireworks legal 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Local authorities would be allowed to set restrictions.

The bill faces opposition from the Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition, which includes more than 40 public health and safety organizations.

Related: Ohio may legalize fireworks for private home use

If it becomes law, the changes would take effect in July 2020.

It would ban lighting off fireworks while drinking or on drugs. Also, licensed dealers who sell the fireworks to consumers would be required to have safety glasses for free or at a nominal charge and distribute a safety pamphlet.

Also included in the bill is the creation of a study group to come up with recommendations. If lawmakers don’t adopt those recommendations by July 2020, consumer use of 1.4G fireworks, such as bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles, would be legalized.

The bill is sponsored by state Reps. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Martin Sweeney, D-Cleveland.

Currently, illegal possession or discharge of fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail for first offenses. Buyers are required to take purchased fireworks out of state within 48 hours, though they are no longer required to sign a form promising to do so.

Related: Ohioans no longer have to sign a form promising to take fireworks out of state

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