Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee
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Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So here’s another sign that things are slowly returning to normal — we can start thinking about outdoor fireworks displays. And state lawmakers can start thinking about ways to regulate them.
Enter Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, who’s sponsoring a bill that would give municipal governments the authority to enact their own fireworks ordinances — as long as they don’t conflict with existing state law. Which should come as significant relief for local leaders concerned about things that go bang in the night.
“With the arrival of the summer months and Independence Day close at hand there is once again a growing concern on the part of residents regarding the use of consumer fireworks. Last summer we witnessed widespread abuse of the use of fireworks in many residential neighborhoods that proved very disruptive to people’s lives and undermined their quality of life by having to endure the discharge of such fireworks throughout the day and late into the night,” Freeman said in a statement released by his office. “This disruptive behavior is unacceptable and must be reined in.”
As it’s currently written, Freeman’s bill would limit the use of fireworks to “between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with extended hours for certain holidays. Additionally, the legislation would require each consumer fireworks purchase to include a notification that provides the conditions, prohibitions and limitations for using fireworks.”
A first-time violator would be punished with a summary offense and a fine between $100 and $500. A repeat offense, committed within one year of a prior conviction, would be a third-degree misdemeanor, and violators would face a fine of between $500 and $1,000.
“We need to give local governments the ability to deal with this disruptive behavior and impose substantial penalties for violating local ordinances. My proposed legislation will give them that option,” Freeman said.
Freeman, who voted against the 2017 state law that allows those aged 18 and older to purchase consumer grade fireworks, also is sponsoring legislation that would repeal the state’s updated 2017 fireworks law, reverting to what was previously permitted in Pennsylvania, his office said.
“One of the reasons I opposed making these fireworks legal back in 2017 was because I thought they would be disruptive and unsafe,” Freeman said in a statement. “If those using fireworks cannot do it responsibly with consideration for how disruptive they can be to a neighborhood, then the Legislature has no other recourse than to repeal the 2017 fireworks law.
“If we can’t get the votes in the Legislature necessary for an outright repeal of the 2017 fireworks law then, at the very least, we need to enact my legislation to give local governments the authority to crack down on the abusive use of fireworks so that communities don’t have to endure the type of disruptive behavior caused by an irresponsible use of fireworks,” he concluded.
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