March 23, 2007

Fireworks law change in Indiana

What is most interesting about the story below is that once again TNT Fireworks is right in the thick of things. Of course in Indiana they are arguing that they want a universal state law covering fireworks. Here in California the so called "patchwork system" created by hapless city counsels (which are quire easy the pander to) suits the fireworks companies just fine. I think the fireworks companies are soon going to be like the tobacco one needs their smoke.

Posted on Fri, Mar. 23, 2007

Fireworks change sets off hot debate
Industry worried about piecemeal laws

By Niki Kelly
The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Residents weary of fireworks popping day and night might get relief under a bill passed Thursday that gives some local control to cities, towns and counties wishing to restrict the pyrotechnics.

The House Local Government Committee amended Senate Bill 9 Thursday and then approved it 9-3. It is now eligible for consideration by the full House.

Under Indiana law passed last year, Hoosiers can set off fireworks every day of the year until 11 p.m.from their own properties or properties they have permission to use. On many holidays, the festivities are permitted to continue until midnight.

The new law is a major departure from the old system of making Hoosiers promise to set off fireworks out of state, and included a tax on fireworks to pay for firefighter training and state disaster relief.

Under Senate Bill 9, the state law would be in force unless a county or municipality passes a local ordinance restricting when and where residents can use fireworks.

Even under a local ordinance, though, the state law protects the absolute right of residents to use fireworks eight days a year – July 2-7, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

The hours on those days would differ slightly, from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m., except on July 4, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, when the hours would be from 10 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m.

The measure also makes it clear that local police can enforce their own noise ordinances year-round. This language is in response to questions about whether the state law preempts local ordinances.

Those representing the fireworks industry complained about a patchwork of regulations the bill would create – as many as 700 if every single county, city and town in the state passed an ordinance.

“Talk about mass confusion,” said Tom Fruechtenicht, lobbyist for the Indiana Fireworks Distributors Association. “I think this law deserves time to work before you undo and restrict these things.”

Some speakers also noted that many of the problems experienced last summer are covered under the existing law if local police enforce it.

Examples include the use of loud cherry bombs or M80s (which are illegal under state and federal law) and shooting off fireworks at 3 a.m. Both violations could result in at least a citation.

But Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, said police have other important duties.

“They are out trying to find burglars and murderers and rapists,” he said. “To divert them to fireworks is a difficult choice.”

Fireworks industry supporters also were unable to answer a crucial question from Rep. Jon Elrod, R-Indianapolis, who asked how he proves who burned his garage down when multiple neighbors are shooting off bottle rockets.

“That’s an evidentiary problem,” Fruechtenicht said.

Lisa Hays Murray, who represents TNT Fireworks, said that people tend to use more fireworks immediately after they are legalized and that she expects the novelty to wear off this summer.

But lawmakers were insistent that those living in dense urban areas be given some sort of tool to combat the problems of noise, garbage and danger.

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