Pennsylvania residents can only buy “novelty fireworks,” such as party-poppers and sparklers under current law, but a trio of lawmakers wants that to change.
A bill will soon be introduced in the Senate that would make it legal for residents to purchase larger “consumer fireworks,” such as Roman candles, mortars and bottle rockets, according to co-sponsor Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver).
“We’ve kicked this idea around for a couple years, and obviously you get a little bit of momentum right now because the 4th of July is coming up and you see all the people running around,” Vogel said.
Residents can currently display these larger fireworks if they apply for a permit from their municipality, a process that would disappear under the bill, according to Vogel.
He said the bill would be a good way for Pennsylvania to generate extra tax revenue from an activity in which many state residents already participate.
“You know people are running across the state lines in Ohio and Maryland and places buying fireworks, and Pennsylvania is sitting here losing out on it,” he said.
Vogel said the extra revenue would come through a special excise tax on fireworks which early estimates indicate could be anywhere from $2 million to $10 million a year. The tax would benefit fire and EMS departments across the state.
“It’s not going to be a huge amount of money, but obviously our fire and EMS people can use all the money they can get,” he said. “So if we can generate a few million dollars a year to help them with their efforts, well I think it’d be a worthwhile thing to do.”
The measure still includes some restrictions on sizes of fireworks available for purchase, according to Vogel.
“Obviously you can’t put off the big ones like the Zambellis do…I mean, this is just the small stuff you can use in your backyard,” he said.
Allegheny County Emergency Services reminds people to stay safe while lighting fireworks by taking simple precautions like having a bucket of water ready in case of a mishap and only lighting fireworks on flat surfaces away from buildings or flammable materials.