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Government/Politics

Bill To Legalize Fireworks In Ohio Implodes As DeWine Vetoes It

A display of fireworks in a store in central Ohio
Karen Kasler
/
A display of fireworks in a store in central Ohio

Gov. Mike DeWine has vetoed a bill that was passed by a large majority of legislators that would have allowed Ohioans to set off the big fireworks they can legally purchase here in Ohio. 

The bill would have allowed Ohioans who now must promise to take fireworks out of state to set them off on about two-weeks-worth of holidays throughout the year. But Republican Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) says there were two big restrictions. 

“We are not going to allow anyone to discharge any fireworks in Ohio under the influence of drug or alcohol. And this is an important one for a lot of us – this bill also respects the right of local municipalities to restrict or ban the use of fireworks in their community," Rulli said.

Many public health officials, including Prevent Blindness Ohio, have fought to keep fireworks illegal, citing safety concerns.

Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed the fireworks bill, saying it "would be a dramatic change in Ohio law, which would make Ohio one of the least restrictive states in regard to fireworks laws."

In his veto, DeWine said the bill would double the square footage of fireworks stores without requiring adequate safety features.

"Since the Scottown, Ohio, (Lawrence County) fireworks store tragedy in 1996, there have been 2 major studies, one by Battelle Labs in 2000 and another study by Southwest Research Institute in 2008 (produced for the fireworks industry) to help find better ways to build and operate fireworks stores.  SB 113 does not require compliance with the safety measures outlined in these studies but nevertheless doubles the square footage of stores that are selling these devices to the public," DeWine said.

The veto means setting off big fireworks, including those bought in Ohio, is still illegal. But the bill passed by a veto proof majority, so an override is possible. Ohio lawmakers are on summer break now so it could be difficult to get lawmakers to come back to override the legislation soon. But they can do that in the fall or anytime during this legislative session.

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