Northwest Iowa — A debate over the private possession of fireworks in Iowa has been reignited in the state senate. Private possession of fireworks has been banned in Iowa since 1938, a direct result of the infamous Spencer Fire of 1931 that was ignited by a careless youngster at a store’s fireworks display, and destroyed most of Spencer’s downtown business district.
A bill to make it legal to sell and set off fireworks cleared a subcommittee this week, with the backing of Democratic Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo.
Dotzler envisions making it legal to set off fireworks from Christmas Eve through the 3rd of January and in late June and early July — for the Independence Day holiday.
The bill’s future is uncertain, however, as supporters have not agreed on the details, like exactly when it would be legal to SELL fireworks in Iowa. Opponents have killed similar efforts to legalize fireworks over the past several years. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, says legalizing fireworks is unpopular in her district.
A brief public hearing, at the statehouse, on the bill attracted two opponents and no supporters. Iowa Firefighters Association vice president Marv Trimble of Garrison says during his 35 year career, he’s responded to both fires and injuries caused by fireworks.
Last year the Iowa House passed a bill legalizing fireworks in the state. The Republican leader in the Iowa House smiled when reporters told him the issue had been revived in the Iowa Senate, but he’s wary of predicting ultimate victory for fireworks supporters this year. The only fireworks which ARE legal to sell and ignite in Iowa today are sparklers and snakes.