Iowa Legislature approves firework sales, sends bill to Branstad

DES MOINES — Expect a few more pops and flashes this July Fourth thanks to a final vote Tuesday on legislation allowing fireworks sales in Iowa.

The bill approved 56-41 by the Iowa House would legalize consumer-grade fireworks, including bottle rockets, firecrackers and roman candles. The explosives could be sold from June 1 through July 8 and from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3 in permanent structures or tents, though the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency said that the majority of licenses issued will be for temporary retailers.

Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to sign the bill. After the Iowa Senate approved the legislation, Branstad noted that few states remain so restrictive about fireworks.

Republican Rep. Matt Windschitl, the bill’s floor manager, declared the legislative approval of firework sales as an enhancement of Iowa’s freedoms, but some Democrats and Republicans were hesitant when discussing the possible consequences of the move, noting safety concerns and added hardships for individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Emergency medical responders have expressed concern that widespread firework use will increase related injuries. Rep. Timothy Kacena, a Sioux City Democrat, spoke as a retired firefighter about his experience treating hand injuries, eye injuries and burns.

“You cannot control fireworks,” he said during House debate. “They have a mind of their own. Once it’s lit, you can’t pull it back.”

Under the bill, local governments could forbid the use of fireworks, but not the sale of them. The bill would generate an estimated $1.5 million in sales tax revenue for the 2018 fiscal year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.