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Nebraska lawmaker proposes bill to revise fireworks

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 4:20 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There are some Nebraska lawmakers who want to put more “bang” in your fourth of July celebration.

Senator Julie Slama of Peru introduced a bill that would match up the state definition of consumer fireworks with the federation. That would allow Nebraskans to buy more powerful fireworks like the ones they sell in Missouri and South Dakota.

LB 152 broaden the sale of fireworks in Nebraska, senators gave the bill’s first round approval with a 40-3 vote. Critics of the measure say Nebraska lawmakers have more important issues to deal with.

Kelly Arbuckle lives in the Minne Lusa neighborhood and she can’t believe state lawmakers want to help generate more firework noise.

“I don’t see a purpose for it, we’ve already had enough accidents. Our police are busy enough with just the small ones we have, we have enough problems for our veterans and our pets,” said Arbuckle.

Senator Slama says Nebraskans are already lighting up the sky with fireworks from neighboring states that are illegal right now in Nebraska. She also says they’re carrying millions of dollars a year crossing state lines to buy them.

“We have over 600 bills introduced in a single year in the Nebraska legislature and when we’re talking about millions of dollars in lost revenue on an annual basis in our state, this truly is an important issue,” said Slama.

The senator says safety is at the forefront of her measure and it calls for the state fire marshals’ office to have oversite to determine if certain fireworks are unsafe. Local lawmakers would still be able to decide what kind of fireworks would be legal in their areas, the bill won’t override local ordinance.

Omaha City Councilmember Ben Gray says if passed, the law would mean nothing in Omaha.

“I think we’re going to probably stick with what we have based on the complaints that we’ve gotten and based on the number of people we give firework permits to. I think we’re going to keep it the same for the most part,” said Gray.

Senator Slama says she wouldn’t support an outright ban on fireworks in the state and says she hopes people would be considerate of their neighbors, especially veterans when celebrating.

“[And] give them a heads up before shooting off whatever fireworks they choose to set off during the fourth of July,” said Slama.

Senator Slama says there is a small group of opposition to the bill but she believes there is the necessary support to pass LB 152. If passed, the measure would not supersede local control.

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