A group of state lawmakers is trying to dampen the exploding popularity of powerful fireworks in Pennsylvania.
Consumer grade fireworks, like Roman candles and bottle rockets, have been legal in Pennsylvania since 2017 thanks to legislation that was tied to a budget deal. Now there’s a push to repeal those changes.
“We screwed up a few years ago,” said Rep. Mike Schlossberg, who represents the 132nd district. “I was one of a majority of legislators who voted yes on this as part of a compromise deal. We need to fix that. We made a mistake”
Now, Schlossberg says fireworks have become a constant nuisance in communities and causes problems that outweigh the benefit of tax revenue, which helps fund schools and human services.
He is one of several state legislators sponsoring a bill which would repeal Pennsylvania’s law allowing residents to purchase and set-off powerful fireworks.
Some retailers say the 2017 legislation was done quickly and without input from the industry. Commercial fireworks have been skyrocketing in popularity. Joe VanOudenhove, owner of Sky King Fireworks in the Easton area, says sales were up 30 to 50 percent last year.
“A lot of 4th of July fireworks displays were cancelled. There was a lack of entertainment. People wanted to be outside and had nowhere to go,” VanOudenhove, says. “We want people to use our products in a responsible manner and we would support legislation that enables that.”
Supporters of the legislation to repeal the fireworks law say they’re facing an uphill battle. Similar legislation failed to pass last session .
“Anything that impacts the tax situation in Harrisburg is hard. By proposing this legislation, we can keep the pressure on to at least come up with some stronger laws or give municipalities better options to restrict them,” Schlossberg says.