Utah lawmakers want pre-2011 fireworks laws returned

Aug 15 2011 - 7:31pm

Images

(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Police and fire officials inspect used fireworks after a demonstration of newly-legal fireworks at a fire station in Layton in June. Some Utah lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would return the state to pre-2011 laws, which strictly limited the timeframes fireworks could be used.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Police and fire officials inspect used fireworks after a demonstration of newly-legal fireworks at a fire station in Layton in June. Some Utah lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would return the state to pre-2011 laws, which strictly limited the timeframes fireworks could be used.

LAYTON -- The smoke has cleared and lawmakers are now mulling over the best way to police fireworks in the state of Utah.

The 2011 summer season was the first year a new fireworks law went into effect in Utah, making it legal for state residents to set off fireworks between June 26 and July 26.

Under previous law, fireworks could only be used during a 14-day window -- on July 4 and July 24 and three days before and after both holidays.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, is planning to make modifications to the new law, saying he wants the original law back in place. Valentine is working on a bill, written for the entire state of Utah, that he plans to introduce during the 2012 legislative session.

Valentine said the fireworks can create a noise problem and regulations also need to be placed on how late in the evening fireworks can be used.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, and Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, both said cities could use noise ordinances that are likely already in place in many areas.

"I think the time frame in terms of the number of days could be shrunk back down," Ray said. "But as far as how late (fireworks can be set off), that sounds more like a city issue."

Oda said he's received only a few complaints stemming from the new fireworks law and says any tweaks to the law should be handled on a local level.

"Not all cities have noise ordinances," Oda said. "But the cities have the ability to regulate that. I just think it's something that should be handled on the most local level."

Both Oda and Ray said the new law probably increased safety this year.

"I think the new law did increase safety," Ray said. "I think it helped discourage people from going up to the foothills and setting (fireworks) off in dangerous places like where fires can start."

Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said he's already called Valentine in support of the proposal. Stevenson was one of the few senators who voted against the law being changed in the first place.

"I've already called (Valentine) and expressed my support," he said. "We are becoming a more compact society here, and it doesn't make sense to have fireworks going off all the time."

Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said he's heard from people on both sides of the issue.

"I've never received more praise and more complaints about the same law," he said. "But when you are getting down to the end of July and real late at night, (fireworks) can become a nuisance. I could see (Valentine's bill) getting some support."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

From Around the Web

  +