Florida lawmakers approve fireworks revamp

A proposal to allow Floridians to legally buy fireworks for use on three holidays is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

With no debate Wednesday, the House voted 82-34 in support of the bill (SB 140) that would allow people 18 and older to buy fireworks to use on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Independence Day. Current Florida law governing fireworks is “completely outdated,” according to Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Doral Republican who sponsored the House version of the legislation.

“You’re basically perjuring yourself every time you purchase fireworks, because you’re signing a paper that most people, I would say everyone, doesn’t use for that purpose,” Rodriguez said during a House Commerce Committee meeting last month.

Relatively innocuous devices such as sparklers are legal to buy in Florida, but explosives such as firecrackers, torpedoes and roman candles are off limits. However, people can buy the explosives if they sign a waiver saying they will use the fireworks for certain agricultural purposes, specifically for “frightening birds from agricultural work” and fish hatcheries.

The proposal on its way to the governor would eliminate the need for people to declare why they are buying fireworks, if they use them during the three holidays listed in the bill.

The Senate voted 39-0 Monday to approve the bill, which doesn’t preempt local fireworks regulations.

State lawmakers over the years have tried and failed to amend the fireworks law, with proposals including a repeal of the ban altogether and making changes to the legal waiver. But fireworks companies --- including TNT Fireworks, Phantom Fireworks and Sky King Fireworks --- have opposed changes, warning of more injuries to consumers if the market is less restricted.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.