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Legalize sale of fireworks throughout Illinois, says state Rep. Barb Wheeler

Republican calls Illinois an ‘outlier’ behind states with legal fireworks

State Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake.
State Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake.

State Rep. Barbara Wheeler has filed new legislation to decriminalize fireworks in Illinois.

The Crystal Lake Republican filed her proposed legislation Tuesday – the day before the Fourth of July. 

House Bill 5928 would establish the Pyrotechnic Use Act of 2018, a law that would set rules for the licensing, sale and purchase of consumer-grade fireworks more elaborate than sparklers. Illinois is one of four states that does not allow consumers to buy fireworks. 

Illinois residents should be able to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks without risking a hefty fine or arrest, Wheeler said.

“Illinois is already an outlier in so many ways, and this is another silly example,” Wheeler said of one of the four states with active firework bans. “Illinoisans, like residents in 46 other states, can and should be trusted to responsibly use consumer fireworks and take care of themselves.” 

Freedom to purchase fireworks gives “a little independence back to the people for Independence Day,” Wheeler said, adding that a free fireworks market could generate tax revenue and attract businesses to “help mitigate some of the exodus of people leaving.” 

In 2017, fireworks tax revenues in Indiana totaled $2.8 million, according to an analysis by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In 2016, West Virginia passed House Bill 2852 by a margin of 96-0. The law allows residents to buy a wide range of consumer fireworks, including sparklers, bottle rockets, firecrackers, Roman candles, aerial shell kits and more.

Wheeler’s legislation would legalize the sale of snake or glow worm pellets, smoke devices, trick noisemakers – known as “party poppers,” “booby traps,” “snappers,” “trick matches” and “cigarette loads” – sparklers, toy pistols, toy canes and toy guns.

Under HB5928, anyone interested in selling consumer fireworks must register every year with the State Fire Marshall and pay a fee of no more than $500.

The hazards of fireworks are not a good enough reason to ban them outright, Wheeler said.

“Even water can be a danger if you’re not following the safety precautions,” Wheeler said. “It’s time for Illinois to remove the ban.”

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