Local governments could soon be allowed to regulate, and effectively ban, the use of fireworks except on certain holidays, under legislation that passed the Senate Wednesday.
Senators amended the measure, House Bill 419, sending it back to the House for its consideration in the final days of the 2018 session.
State Rep. Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs, who sponsored the bill, said she was pleased the Senate approved the measure.
“The whole idea for the bill is to give local control so that people can have some peace and quiet in their lives in the metro area,” she said.
The Georgia General Assembly first allowed the purchase of fireworks in Georgia in 2015, but the Legislature did not include permissions for local cities and counties to fully regulate their use.
“In Sandy Springs, we have some folks who were savvy enough that if police were called, they had the state law ready to show them that what they were doing was legal,” she said.
If the measure wins final passage and is signed into law, local governments will be allowed to enact noise ordinances to regulate fireworks use. The bill would require laws be posted where fireworks are sold.
Residents still would be allowed to set them off statewide on Jan. 1, the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day, July 3, July 4, Labor Day and New Year’s Eve.
The legislation also allows for the governor to issue a moratorium on igniting fireworks if parts of Georgia are suffering from drought.
The bill almost didn’t make it out of the Senate after some amendments were approved. Senators squabbled over which holidays fireworks should be allowed.
“Everybody knows when you bring up fireworks, there’s going to be fireworks,” said state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford.
Unterman amended the bill to remove Memorial Day from the list of proposed days allowing fireworks, citing emails she received from veterans and families of fallen military.
Unterman read a letter from a man whose father was killed when the Air Force plane he was piloting went down.
“To me, an explosion emulates the last sound he heard before his death,” she said. “Let’s keep Memorial Day what it should be — reverent day — and honor those veterans.”