New Iowa Bill Would Limit Cities’ Ability to Regulate Fireworks
An 80-year-long ban on consumer fireworks ended in the state of Iowa in 2017, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, but what it may have led to was even more confusion and inconsistency than clarity on the regulations.
Senate File 489, as it was called, "gave local communities authority to restrict or continue banning fireworks from being set off, but required them to allow the sale of fireworks regardless." As it stands, licensed retailers are allowed to sell consumer fireworks to adults "in permanent structures between June 1 and July 8 and between Dec. 10 and Jan. 3". It also allows temporary structures such as tents to sell between June 13 and July 8 each year.
However, in response to citizen complaints and a rise in injuries, communities can, and some have, limited the time frame they will sell within these windows even further, and also limit where they are sold within their district.
Republic Senator Mike Klimesh of Spillville said these extra restrictions "scorn the intent" of lawmakers. He says the new bill, which is now heading to the desk of Governor Kim Reynolds after passage through the House and Senate, would eliminate that inconsistency. Klimesh says that under the new bill, the State Fire Marshal would continue to decide where fireworks are sold.
What this bill does is provide a check to cities that are trying to use spot zoning as an attempt to do an end-run around the state law. I’ve been a mayor of a small town for 20 years. You won’t find a much more staunch advocate of local control. However, there are times the Legislature needs to step in and say, ‘What you’re doing locally defies the very spirit of a law that we passed.’
Opponents say it's a bad idea to take away communities' rights to determine safety measures for their own communities. Democrat Senator Joe Bolkcom called it the "burn down every main street amendment".
It doesn’t make any sense to put dangerous explosives on the Main Street of every Iowa downtown.
Many local leaders agree, Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said:
It is yet another case of the state Legislature taking away local control on matters that are best handled within the purview of local governments,. Issues of public safety don’t always have one-size-fits-all solutions and cities must have the powers to fulfill this basic function of local government. Fireworks have the potential to cause significant harm to people and property. We regulate far less dangerous items to a much higher degree.
The bill was passed by the Senate Wednesday and sent to Reynolds for approval, according to WOWT, and should get her signature (or not) very soon.