Iowans will now be able to enjoy shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July. The Iowa House passed SF 489, which would allow the legal sale of fireworks in temporary structures in the weeks of June 1st to July 8th and December 10th to January 3rd. The bill was introduced in the House by Representative Matt Windschitl (R, Missouri Valley) and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Branstad.
“The Fourth of July. What does that mean to you? What does that mean to every American? When I think about the Fourth of July, I think about freedom. I think about fun. And I think about fireworks. The bill before us would allow Iowans the opportunity to make decisions for themselves if they want to use fireworks or not. 40 other states in the country allow their citizens the same opportunity.”
The bill provides provisions for local governments to opt out of allowing fireworks in their communities. Additionally, it is estimated that there would be an additional $1.5 million generated in tax revenue per fiscal year, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency.
In closing remarks, Representative Windschitl reminded the body that “Iowans are doing it already. They’re driving across the border to purchase these products and come back into Iowa to use them. Let’s give them the opportunity to make the decision to spend their dollars here in Iowa. Yet this isn’t about the money. This is about giving Iowans the freedom to make decisions for themselves. We can’t bubble-wrap Iowans. This is about letting them make the legal decision to use fireworks instead of driving out of state to purchase them illegally. Iowans are reasonable, responsible people. They can make this decision for themselves. It’s not our job to constantly wonder “How can we protect Iowans in this instance, and that instance, and this instance? Let’s let them make decisions for themselves.”
Representative Windschitl, a Marine veteran, also addressed concerns about veterans suffering from PTSD being negatively affected by fireworks.
“I remember when I first got back from Iraq. I had done one tour with my Marine Corps unit, and I remember those first few months. I remember hearing that car backfire, and I remember instantly reaching for that Kevlar that I didn’t have anymore, because I had turned it in. Hearing a door slam, and looking for a table to duck under. I understand the plight of those veterans. But I’ve also gone back and talked to veterans, who were in much worse situations than I was, and I’ve asked them, “How do you feel about stuff like this?” You know what the resounding answer I got back was? “Matt, I fought for freedom. And I understand that I might not like these loud noises, and it might bring back flashbacks, but I fought for freedom. For people to be able to make decisions for themselves”. So I’ll close with this: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.””
SF 489 passed the House by a vote of 52-40, with eight absent.
MacKenzie Dreeszen is a legislative assistant in the Iowa House and a political consultant specializing in fundraising.