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House adopts its own fireworks bill

Fireworks 1By The Iowa Statesman

 

The Iowa House of Representatives passed, largely along party lines, a bill that would make consumer fireworks legal in Iowa for the first time in 85 years late Wednesday evening. House File 614 now goes to the Senate for consideration, but to get an up or down vote, it needs the support of one man.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) controls the legislation that may come up for a vote with a notoriously iron grip. And, with so many appropriations bills now in, or headed to, conference committee, it’s difficult to say if he would be interested in debating yet another controversial bill this session.

State Sen. Jake Chapman (R-Adel), who authored HF 614’s original companion bill in the Senate, Senate File 226, said he thinks, however, there’s a “good chance” the bill could come up for a vote as early as next week. The proposed legislation was originally identical to Chapman’s bill, but was amended to help get the votes it needed for adoption. Among the changes were:

• doubles the originally proposed annual permitting fees for retail sellers of consumer fireworks to $800 for those who devote 50 percent or more of their floor space to fireworks, and $400 for those who devote less than 50 percent of their floor space, and for community groups who are selling for fundraisers;

• changes the process to sell fireworks from a licensing process to an annual permitting process, which will still be overseen by the State Fire Marshal’s Office;

• establishes a permitting process for wholesalers of consumer fireworks based in Iowa with an annual permitting fee of $1,000;

• allows cities to limit or prohibit the sale and use of consumer fireworks;

• allows counties to establish areas in which the use of consumer fireworks is prohibited, either as a safety concern, or if it would be a nuisance to neighbors; and

• grants the State Fire Marshal emergency rulemaking authority to expedite preparation for the new laws to take effect Dec. 1.

After a lengthy debate — CLICK HERE to see video — HF 614 was adopted on a 53-43 vote. In general, Republicans supported the measure, while Democrats were opposed, but there were a number of defections on both sides.

Democrats who voted in favor of the bill were state Reps. Deborah Berry (D-Waterloo), Dennis Cohoon (D-Burlington), Chris Hall (D-Sioux City), Jim Lykam (D-Davenport), Charlie McConkey (D-Council Bluffs), Rick Olson (D-Des Moines), and Mary Lynn Wolfe (D-Clinton). Republicans who voted against the bill were state Reps. Clel Baudler (R-Greenfield) Gary Carlson (R-Muscatine), Jack Drake (R-Griswold), Stan Gustafson (R-Cumming), Mary Ann Hanusa (R-Council Bluffs), Dave Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant), Dan Huseman (R-Aurelia), Kevin Koester (R-Ankeny), John Landon (R-Ankeny), Dave Maxwell (R-Gibson), Quentin Stanerson (R-Center Point), and Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines).