Let’s tweak the fireworks law

This year, many Georgians celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks — the kind that just became legal in our state just three days before the holiday. Thanks to House Bill 110, which was passed during the 2015 legislative session, fireworks sales were expanded and safety regulations were increased in Georgia. It’s a measure that allows Georgia to compete with surrounding states and receive the economic benefits of job creation and increased revenue — and it’s a measure I enthusiastically support.

Now that the holiday is over, it’s apparent that not everyone is happy with the new fireworks law. Local law enforcement agencies, media outlets, and my legislative office received some complaints over the holiday weekend regarding fireworks use in residential neighborhoods. This creates an unfortunate situation that overshadows the original intent of the newly implemented law.

The intent of this law was to give Georgia an economic boost from the sale of fireworks, which were previously being purchased in other states and used illegally in Georgia, and improve safety protocols. It was never meant to be a burden on neighborhoods or law enforcement officials.

The sale of fireworks within our state will create thousands of new jobs and decrease related accidents through consumer campaigns and education programs. I do believe the Georgia General Assembly needs to further review the time frame in which fireworks can be used on any given day, including the four holiday dates, to prevent disturbing neighborhood noise ordinances and quiet hours.

I have no reservations about amending this law to include revised usage regulations.

I also plan to introduce a resolution in 2016 that will call for a new constitutional amendment dedicating fireworks tax revenue towards funding trauma care and fire safety. As a former fire chief, I firmly believe the expansion of fireworks sales should go hand-in-hand with increased fireworks safety education.

Fireworks should be a colorful source of amusement and celebration—not a burden or nuisance. I agree that the Georgia General Assembly should take a closer look at the current fireworks law, and I am hopeful we can come to a mutual agreement that is beneficial for everyone.

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