HILO — A bill that would make fireworks illegal for consumer use throughout the state will go before a House committee on Friday.
House Bill 497, introduced by House Speaker and Oahu Rep. Scott Saiki, would only authorize the consumer sale and use of fireworks for “cultural purposes.”
While existing fireworks laws allow consumers to purchase and discharge fireworks on three designated holidays — New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and the Lunar New Year, HB 497 would rescind that permission, with the only permitted consumer use of fireworks to be during “an event relating to the arts, customs, traditions, mores, history or religion of any of the various ethnic groups of Hawaii.”
The bill, which Saiki introduced at the request of an undisclosed party, cites the risks of property damage and injury, particularly to children, posed by fireworks, as well as the respiratory hazards of fireworks smoke and the disruptions caused by loud fireworks noises.
The high use of fireworks during the holidays also places strain on public safety agencies, which might not be able to maintain adequate response levels for other emergencies, according to the bill.
Testimony regarding the bill has been largely negative. The Hawaii Food Industry Association opposed the bill, arguing: “We already have fairly strict limitations on fireworks in our state and we oppose this attempt to ban them further. We are a multicultural state and several cultures use fireworks as part of yearly celebrations of a few significant holidays.”
The House Judiciary Committee will make a decision Friday regarding the bill.
Email Michael Brestovansky at email@example.com.