COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — A bill to legalize commercial fireworks is sitting on the desk of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine awaiting his signature or veto.
Proponents and opponents of the bill aren’t sure which way he will go.
“He’s had the bill for probably five or six days now. We’ve not gotten a lot of indication as to which way the governor is leaning, we do know that there is an outpouring of support for the bill’s passage,” said Dan Peart who is the director of government affairs with Phantom Fireworks, which supports the bill.
Sherry Williams is the president and CEO of Prevention Blindness, Ohio Affiliate. “I know that he is the governor of Ohio’s children, he’s done so much for the safety, security, education of our children that I know he would be weighing that carefully.”
SB 113 passed both the house and senate in June. It allows Ohioans to set off fireworks on certain holidays, removing a ban that’s been in place for decades.
“So, no, it isn’t just carte blanche, it’s not 24/7 365 days a year. It’s you know, Memorial Day and Labor Day and Fourth of July and New Years and any recognized holiday,” Peart said.
Prevent Blindness is opposed to the bill’s passage and Williams has safety concerns.
“When in 2020 professional fireworks displays were curtailed because of COVID, we saw an increase in consumer use of fireworks and sure enough, the injuries increased nationally according to the consumer product safety commission by 56 percent,” Williams said.
Instead of letting cities opt-in to allowing fireworks, the bill would give local governments the ability to opt-out.
“So, if a certain community decides they don’t want fireworks use in their neighborhood or they want to limit it even further then they have the ability to do that,” Peart said.
Williams said it puts those municipalities in a position to have to pass additional resolutions or local legislation.
“Senate Bill 113 would be a burden on communities to have to unravel it if they did not want fireworks discharged in their community,” Williams said.
Ohio is one of three states, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, that allow only the use of wire or wood stick sparklers or other novelty items.
We followed up with the governor’s office Tuesday and a representative told us that they are reviewing the bill and, “Do not have an estimate on executive action at this time.”
Even if the governor does sign the bill into law, it would not take effect until next year.