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Expanded consumer firework sales bill advances in the Legislature

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 9:36 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 10:10 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - After a 34-2 vote Wednesday, legislation to expand consumer fireworks in Nebraska has passed to the next stage in the Unicameral.

Local firework businesses say it’s a good first step, but there’s work to be done. Firework stores in Nebraska said there was a boom in business last year after firework shows were canceled.

Although business was good, 76 Warroom owner, Seth Rye, said people still go to neighboring states to buy fireworks.

“A lot of those folks are really stealing the business from Nebraskans who are starting small retail businesses and we’d just like to get our hands back into it,” Rye said.

That’s because firework laws in Missouri are in line with federal laws. State senator Julie Slama, who introduced the bill, wants to change Nebraska’s laws to a similar standard.

“All you need to do is look at the 2019 sales revenue in Nebraska compared to Missouri,” Sen. Slama said.

She said Missouri made $51 million in firework sales in 2019. Nebraska made $6.6 million.

Even with the possibility of expanded firework sales, local businesses say safety plays a big role.

Rye said, “If we don’t stay ahead on the education, we’re going to be looking at getting rid of these things again and that’s where we’re really weak right now.”

The current bill, LB 152, gives the final say to the state fire marshal to determine what are safe and unsafe fireworks.

Sen. Slama said, “The State Fire Marshal’s office has the flexibility to test fireworks, study fireworks and ban dangerous fireworks as they see fit.”

A specific type that’d still be banned is the wired sparkler as Senator Slama said it has high levels of injuries.

LB 152 will be edited and sent to the Senate floor for its final reading.

If passed again, it’ll go to the Governor’s desk.

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