Expanded fireworks sales advance

Nebraskans would have more options when buying fireworks under a bill given first-round approval March 30.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist01' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Julie Slama'>Sen. Julie Slama</a>
Sen. Julie Slama

LB152, introduced by Sen. Julie Slama of Peru, would adopt the federal standard of consumer fireworks, which is more permissive than current Nebraska law. The bill also would authorize the State Fire Marshal to test commercially available fireworks in response to complaints and declare them unsafe if necessary.

Slama said that the state of Missouri, which uses the federal definition of consumer fireworks, reported $51 million in fireworks sales in 2019, while Nebraska had sales of $6.6 million.

“Thousands of Nebraskans are willing to travel out of state to get access to fireworks that they cannot purchase at home,” Slama said. “By changing the definition of consumer fireworks to the federal definition, we can make our state more competitive in this industry.”

Slama added that there is no evidence that states with fewer restrictions on fireworks have higher rates of injuries or death associated with fireworks accidents.

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue said veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder could be triggered further by potentially noisier fireworks allowed under the bill.

Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks supported the bill. She said the only way to eliminate the risk of fireworks aggravating an individual’s PTSD would be to ban all fireworks.

“That’s not going to happen,” Pansing Brooks said.

Senators advanced LB152 to select file on a 40-3 vote.

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