Rep. Scot Turner has pre-filed legislation entitled the “American Heritage Celebration Act” to legalize the sale, use, and manufacture of all fireworks allowed by U.S. law. The crux of his bill states:
“It shall be lawful to use, possess, manufacture, sell, transport, and store consumer fireworks, as such term is defined in Section 555.11 of Chapter 2 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as such regulations existed on July 1, 2015.”
Sen. Jeff Mullis filed legislation last year calling for a constitutional amendment for legalizing fireworks with the revenues being allocated to firefighter training and trauma care. Rep. Turner’s bill would not be a constitutional amendment, as all tax proceeds would go into the general fund and not allocated to special funds.
Rep. Turner went on WGAU’s Georgia’s Morning News yesterday with Tim Bryant and Katie Andrew to discuss his views on the legislation:
During the radio interview, Rep. Turner was asked about the safety of fireworks being the chief concern for the bill. He took a stance on the use of personal responsibility in place of government regulation in allowing Georgia citizens to make the decision for themselves whether they wish to use fireworks or not.
He also stated in the interview that was impossible to gauge how much revenue is being lost to neighboring states, such as Alabama and South Carolina, as there was no tracking of the amount of illegal firework usage in Georgia.
After listening to the interview, I decided to do some research into fireworks, specifically the revenue and safety issues. The following are just a few highlights from the American Pyrotechnics Association that show an increase in consumption and a decrease in fires and injuries:
- The revenue from consumer fireworks increased from $284 million in 1998 to $662 million in 2013. There was an annual increase in revenues every year, with the exception from 2011 to 2012 when sales dropped by about $4 million.
- While consumption has increased, the injury rate for fireworks has dropped by almost 57% from 2012 to 2000.
- The injury rate for children between the ages of 5-18 was less than fishing, swing sets, baseball, softball, bicycles, and other children activities during the period of June 22-July 22, 2012.
- The fire rate has also decreased dramatically since 2000, dropping from 25.4 fires per 100,000 pounds of fireworks to 7.6 in 2011.