The Ohio House has signed off on legislation legalizing the purchase and use of fireworks in the state, a move proponents say makes Ohio one of the last states in the country to do so.

House Bill 253, which the House passed by a 78-17 margin, would create the Ohio Fire Code Rule Recommendation Committee to advise the state fire marshal on rules around the manufacture, sale and use of fireworks. The committee would include officials at the local and state level.

Current law requires consumers who purchase fireworks in Ohio to transport them out of the state within 48 hours. It also bans anyone from using fireworks – known as 1.4G fireworks – in the Buckeye State.

The bill “will update our state’s antiquated fireworks laws,” state Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren, said on the House floor. “Ohio firework laws have been largely unchanged for decades while our bordering states permit the sale and use of fireworks. Because of this, our citizens are allowed to purchase fireworks in Ohio, but unfortunately, they’re required to travel to another state to legally set those fireworks off.”

HB 253 now heads to the state Senate for consideration. If approved and signed into law, the bill “would make Ohio the 49th state in the country to allow fireworks usage,” O’Brien added.

While debating the bill, members of the House Commerce and Labor Committee heard from several citizens and organizations, including the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who opposed the proposal. The committee also heard from fireworks companies and other organizations associated with the industry that supported the measure.

The bill imposes a 4 percent fee on fireworks sold in the state starting 100 days after the legislation goes into effect. Seven-eighths of the revenue will go toward firefighter training programs, while the rest goes to cover costs the state fire marshal incurs while administering the law.

The bill gives local governments the authority to set dates and times a person may use fireworks. It also requires retailers to give customers safety pamphlets when they purchase fireworks.

“This bill notably eliminates the requirement for Ohioans to take fireworks out of the state once purchasing them within the state,” state Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-Winchester, said in a news release. “Being a firefighter myself, I am proud to support legislation that encourages safety as it relates to fireworks. This legislation is also supportive of the law enforcement community, as it provides funds to firefighter training.”

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By Todd DeFeo

The Center Square