Georgians will no longer have to travel to neighboring states to buy fireworks under legislation signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
House Bill 110 will legalize the sale of consumer fireworks in Georgia, allowing residents to buy bottle rockets and other launchers in the state. It will take effect on July 1 - just in time for the Fourth of July.
Supporters see it as way to spark the economy, since every state bordering Georgia except North Carolina already allows their citizens to buy fireworks. Opponents, including firefighters and healthcare groups, have fought the proposal by pointing to tragic cases of maimed children and damaged property.
Previous efforts to legalize fireworks sales fizzled out amid safety concerns. But Deal said this year he doesn't think the proposal is as explosive as it once was.
"People in our state are crossing state lines and buying fireworks," Deal said Tuesday. "We have so many neighbors around us that already authorize the sale of fireworks, I think this just made sense. And I think we have taken every precaution we can to try to eliminate any injuries associated with it."
The measure would allow businesses and non-profits to pay a $5,000 licensing fee and sell the popular explosives, and the funds are required to be spent for public safety purposes. The bill would also create a new excise tax of 5 percent on every sale, in addition to state and local sales taxes.
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