As a crowd of legislators and other supporters looked on, Gov. Terry Branstad today signed a bill legalizing the sale and use of commercial-grade fireworks in the state for the first time since the 1930’s.
The bill goes into effect at once.
The governor expects the Fire Marshal’s Office to have rules in place to enable the sale and use of fireworks for this 4th of July.
Applause broke out as the governor signed the bill.
“Let the fireworks begin,” Branstad declared.
“I think it’s passed in a lot of states and we were one of the few that hadn’t passed it so I think it was the right thing to do,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who also attended the signing.
Many Democrats in the legislature opposed the bill. It passed the Senate by a vote of 34 to 14. The House vote was 56 to 41.
Before signing the bill, Branstad acknowledged that illegal use of fireworks is already underway.
“Basically people shoot off fireworks anyway,” Branstad said, “but this way they can sell them in Iowa.”
Under the new law, fireworks can be sold and used only around the 4th of July and New Year’s Day.
Retailers and community groups would be licensed to sell under a fee structure outlined in the law. Sales to anyone under 18 would be banned.
Local governments may restrict the use of fireworks, but they may not restrict their sale.
Branstad drew a connection between the bill and his expected assignment as U.S. Ambassador to China.
“They do make a lot of fireworks in China,” Branstad said. “This is a good opportunity for us to work together with them on one more issue.”