Iowa Legislature OKs firework sales, sends bill to Branstad

Expect a few more pops and flashes this July Fourth thanks to a final vote Tuesday on legislation allowing fireworks sales in Iowa.

The bill, which was approved by the Senate 34-14 last month, was backed by 50 Republicans and six Democrats, with eight Republicans joining 33 Democrats to vote against it.

Gov. Terry Branstad signed two bills Monday toughening the state's ban on texting while driving. The explosives could be sold from June 1 to July 8 and December 10 to January 3.

The measure sets a fee structure for various license levels; allows counties or cities that do not want to legalize fireworks to opt out of the use but not the sale; and bars the sale or purchase involving anyone under 18. Representative Timothy Kacena, a Democrat from Sioux City who's a retired fire fighter, says there will be more house fires, grass fires and injuries with more fireworks.

Republican Rep. Matt Windschitl, the bill's floor manager, declared the legislative approval of firework sales as an enhancement of Iowa's freedoms, but some Democrats and Republicans were hesitant when discussing the possible consequences of the move, noting safety concerns and added hardships for individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"You can not control fireworks", he said during House debate.

"I think when people begin to realize how distracted they are when they're driving, when they're using their electronic devices, hands-free is going to be a much easier argument to make in the future", said Ryan.

A fire in Spencer, IA on June 27, 1931, started by a boy who dropped his sparkler on a pile of fireworks, which led to approximately $1.2 million in damages was partially responsible for the ban that the Iowa Legislature passed in 1938.

Amendments that would have banned the use of fireworks in vehicles and made it a misdemeanor for anyone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more to use fireworks were rejected.

"We should make it as safe as possible", Mascher said. "Fun, freedom and fireworks", Windschitl said.

  • Leroy Wright