The state senator from Lebanon County says he’s open to a “common-sense solution” that would tighten some restrictions on the use of fireworks in Pennsylvania.
The state House of Representatives earlier this month voted 160-38 to advance a bill to restrict the use of fireworks to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. year-round — with the exceptions of July 2, 3 and 4 and Dec. 31, when they could be used until 1 a.m. — and impose harsher penalties for the improper sale or illegal use of fireworks in the state.
Before the law was changed in 2017, fireworks that could be purchased or used by Pennsylvania residents were limited largely to sparklers and other small novelties. The change permitted the sale of any fireworks that meet federal consumer standards.
However, the increased use of fireworks across the country have been drawing noise and safety complaints in recent years. Many firefighters have argued that the 2017 law led to more fires and fire deaths in the commonwealth.
The bill has been sent to the state Senate for consideration, although it has not yet been scheduled for a vote.
Senator Chris Gebhard (R-48th), who represents Lebanon County and parts of York and Dauphin counties, told LebTown that he supports amending the current fireworks statute.
“As you may be aware the fireworks laws in Pennsylvania changed under ACT 43 of 2017,” he said in an email. “I do believe this statute could use a modification to address some safety concerns, especially in urban settings. In the five years since ACT 43 there have been multiple fires and disturbances due to illegal and inconsiderate fireworks activity.
“Certainly, everyone can agree the fireworks laws in Elk County do not need to match the fireworks laws in Delaware County,” he added. “Each municipality could implement their own ordinances.”
Gebhard noted that the bill under consideration would “appropriately empower local municipalities, implement suitable time frames, increase penalties for violations and inform the consumers at the point of sale regarding the requirements for the legal use fireworks.”
“This seems like a common-sense solution to ensure the public safety and peace while still allowing the Commonwealth’s citizens the opportunity to celebrate in this fashion,” he said.
In the House, local Rep. Russ Diamond (R-102nd) voted for the bill, while local Rep. Frank Ryan (R-101st) voted against. Contacted last week, Ryan explained his opposition stemmed only from the harshness of the penalties; the bill, he noted, makes fireworks violations a felony.
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