Freeman introduces bill to help quiet fireworks

HARRISBURG, July 9 – Responding to concerns from residents about the proliferation of fireworks being discharged beyond the Independence Day holiday, state Rep. Robert Freeman introduced legislation this week that would give municipalities more authority to regulate the use of fireworks and would increase penalties for violating those regulations.

“My House colleagues and I have been receiving complaints from people whose lives are being disrupted by fireworks being discharged throughout the day and late into the night across Pennsylvania. One of the reasons I opposed making these fireworks legal back in 2017 was because I thought they would be disruptive and unsafe," Freeman said.

Freeman voted against the 2017 state law that allows consumers, 18 or older, to purchase and use “Class C” or “consumer-grade” fireworks.

“My proposal would give local governments the ability to deal with this disruptive behavior and would impose substantial penalties for those who violate the local ordinances,” he said.

Under Freeman’s bill (H.B. 2670) a municipality could enact an ordinance regulating the use of consumer fireworks, provided that the ordinance does not conflict with state law. The bill also would limit the use of fireworks to between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with extended hours for certain holidays.

Additionally, the legislation would require each consumer fireworks purchase to include a notification that provides the conditions, prohibitions and limitations for using fireworks.

Those who violate the municipal regulations would face increased penalties under Freeman’s bill. A first conviction would be a summary offense and a fine between $100 and $500. A subsequent offense committed within one year of a prior conviction would be a third-degree misdemeanor and a fine between $500 and $1,000.

According to the 2017 law, fireworks cannot be discharged:

  • on public or private property without express permission of the property owner.
  • from, within or toward a motor vehicle or building.
  • within 150 feet of an occupied structure, regardless if a person is present.
  • while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another drug.

"We need to give local governments the ability to deal with this disruptive behavior and impose substantial penalties for violating local ordinances. My proposed legislation will give them that option," Freeman said.

Freeman is also co-sponsoring a bill that would repeal the 2017 fireworks law, reverting to what was previously permitted in Pennsylvania.

"If those using fireworks cannot do it responsibly with consideration for how disruptive they can be to a neighborhood, then the legislature has no other recourse than to repeal the 2017 fireworks law," Freeman said.

House Bill 2670 was referred this week to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee for consideration.