A plan to revamp Florida’s fireworks law is headed to the Senate floor.
The Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a proposal (SB 140) that would allow people 18 and older to avoid pretenses when buying fireworks to detonate on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Independence Day.
Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, called the state’s current fireworks rules “one of the craziest laws we have on the books.” Relatively innocuous devices such as sparklers are legal to buy.
But devices such as firecrackers, torpedoes and roman candles are off-limits. People, however, can buy the explosive devices if they sign a waiver saying they will use the fireworks for certain agricultural purposes, specifically for “frightening birds from agricultural work” and fish hatcheries. “We literally require you to commit fraud in order to purchase fireworks,” Brandes said.
“If you blow your hand off using those fireworks, I don't believe you can sue because you've committed fraud in order to purchase and utilize them.”
The bill would allow fireworks use on the holidays. “I believe Floridians should be able to enjoy their holidays and not be discouraged by our fireworks laws,” said bill sponsor Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine.
Before the vote, Hutson removed Memorial Day from the allowed holidays, in part because he said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried noted that holiday occurs during the middle of the state’s dry season.
The bill has drawn concerns from Audubon Florida and the Humane Society over the impact of fireworks on pets and the potential for an increased risk of wildfires. A similar House bill (HB 65) awaits a final appearance before the House Commerce Committee.