On Independence Day weekend, Americans across the country will flock to watch fireworks displays. In the lead-up to July 4th, states have considered myriad legislation regulating fireworks.
Beginning July 1,2022, Ohio residents can legally discharge consumer-grade fireworks on certain holidays. Governor Mike DeWine signed the changes into law in November 2021, under HB 172, the “Revise the Fireworks Law”.
The legislation allows Ohio residents to set off consumer-grade fireworks on New Year’s Eve and Day, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Cinco De Mayo, Juneteenth, Memorial and Labor Day Weekends, and July 3–5, and the weekends before and after, from 4:00 PM–11 PM.
In July 2021, Governor DeWine vetoed Senate Bill 113, an earlier attempt to loosen fireworks regulations in the state. Governor DeWine justified the veto by claiming that the bill did not require the proper safety features in stores while allowing increased square footage for sale space. However, DeWine felt that HB 172 addressed those concerns and recognized traditional and culturally diverse holidays. However, HB 172 allows cities to opt out and numerous municipalities around the state have already done so.
While Ohio’s legislation seeks to ease fireworks restrictions, Pennsylvania’s legislature considered legislation this session implementing more restrictions. HB 2157, which passed the legislature on Friday July 1st, would restrict fireworks from 10:00 AM–10:00 PM, except for July 2–4 and December 31, when they could be used until 1:00 AM. The bill will also impose significant penalties for improper sales or illegal use. The legislation was introduced in opposition to a 2017 law passed as part of that year’s budget package which expanded the use of fireworks.
The legislation would also allow municipalities to ban the use of fireworks if they do not feel they can be used safely and require individuals to provide notice in writing in certain areas. Those who wish to use fireworks will also have to give nearby livestock owners or manager three days’ notice before the fireworks can be used near an animal housing facility.
Gov. Wolf’s staff indicated he will review the legislation.
In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate Bill 2285 in April 2022. The legislation changed zoning laws and prevented cities and counties from limiting consumer fireworks sales in certain zoned areas. However, the legislation does not prevent cities from setting regulations regarding when Iowans may set fireworks off.
In June 2022, the Myrtle Beach City Council unanimously approved amendments to their existing fireworks ordinance. The updates make it legal for people 18 or older to use fireworks on private property from 7:00 AM–10:00 PM any day, except for 12:30 AM on July 4 and 5, December 31, and January 1. This represents a shift from the city’s previous policy, which insisted that the use of fireworks inside the city was illegal and that those possessing could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Other municipalities in South Carolina have taken similar action. Surfside Beach, for example, loosened its restrictions on firework use, allowing for the discharge of fireworks on the beach on July 4 from sunset to 11:00 PM, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day in the morning, to cease at 1:00 AM. Previously, the town only allowed for fireworks on July 4.