Buying fireworks? Georgia Senate wants sales to pay for trauma care

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Buying fireworks? Georgia Senate wants sales to pay for trauma care

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Shane Kent of St. Augustine, Fla., opened two shops in metro Atlanta last year after the state legalized the sale of fireworks. MATT KEMPNER / AJC

ELECTION 2016: Amendment 4

Official ballot wording: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?

What it means: Would dedicate an existing 5 percent sales tax on fireworks toward the state’s trauma care network, training and equipment for Georgia firefighters, and local governments’ public safety efforts.

The sale of fireworks would be used to help fund trauma care in Georgia, according to two measures passed Wednesday by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 350 would dedicate an existing 5 percent sales tax on fireworks to go toward the state’s trauma care network, training and equipment for Georgia firefighters, and local governments where the fireworks are sold to be used for public safety purposes. It now goes to the state House for consideration.

Senate Resolution 558 proposes to add that requirement to the state Constitution, essentially guaranteeing a revenue source for trauma care across the state if voters approve the idea in November. The bipartisan measure won a two-thirds majority in the Senate for approval but, because it proposes to change the Constitution, it must do the same in the House before it could be placed on the ballot.

Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, sponsored both measures and has long backed the idea of using fireworks sales to boost funding toward trauma care and firefighter services.

Georgia for the first time last year legalized the sale of fireworks, although some changes are in the works to those rules. A separate measure that has not yet received a vote, Senate Bill 369, would put more limits on when and where Georgians could ignite fireworks because some residents got a little too enthusiastic last year and local officials complained.

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