Just one year in, lawmakers look to revise fireworks laws

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SALT LAKE CITY — The issue of fireworks is smoldering again at the Utah Legislature. Some lawmakers want to make changes, shortening the time when it's legal to light fireworks.

During the 2011 Utah Legislative Session, lawmakers made it legal for Utahns to light aerial fireworks. State Fire Marshal Brent Halladay says he's received too many complaints since then.

"There are some people that would call in that just don't want fireworks, period," Halladay said Tuesday. "But the majority of people that called in said, ‘There's too much noise, it goes too late, and it's too long. It's wearing us out.'"

When Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, introduced the bill that allowed 30 days for Utahns to buy and light fireworks, each city and county had its own fireworks rules.

Now Dunnigan wants to cut that time in half and proposes a statewide standard. "We're going to go back to the old law, the prior law," he explained. "You can't do it three days before and three days after the July 4th and 24th, as well as the New Year's holiday."

If House Bill 33 becomes law, Utahns will only be allowed to buy fireworks from June 23 to July 27, from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, and for Chinese New Year. Even though Utahns will be allowed extra time to buy fireworks, they would only be allowed to light them from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the July holidays, until 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and the Chinese New Year holiday.

Some distributors think the shortened period will hurt fireworks sales, but TNT Fireworks regional sales manager Tyler Talbot says that still needs to be determined.

Dunnigan said, "If you look at the sales chart — which I have — most sales are done just a couple of days before and after (July) 4th, and then a much lesser degree on the 24th. So, people will still be able to sell and have fun on the holidays."

A committee unanimously passed the changes Tuesday with a 13-0 vote. Now the bill heads to the House floor for a vote.


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