DES MOINES — A bill allowing for the sale of fireworks in Iowa passed through a House panel Monday despite an overwhelming show of opposition from fire safety officials and others.
“I’m trying here to dissuade you,” said Mike Scott, an ophthalmologist from Dubuque’s Iowa Academy of Ophthalmology. “States that ban the sale (of fireworks) have much less injuries than states that allow the sale.”
He said 30 percent of fireworks injuries lead to permanent vision loss and 45 percent of those injuries involve children.
In addition to Scott, the two-lawmaker subcommittee heard from Roger Beeson of the Iowa Firefighters Association, Scott Anderson of the Iowa Pyrotechnic Association, Thomas Stanberry who was representing the insurance industry and others who opposed the bill.
Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, said he understood the concerns but thought the ban infringed on “Iowans freedom and liberty.” He noted 46 other states allow for the sale of fireworks being discussed in the bill.
Two people, former House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City and lobbyist Scott Weiser, supported the legislation on behalf of their clients.
Windschitl said he was working on an amendment to address some of the concerns from critics.
The amendment, he said, would allow cities — but not counties — to ban fireworks in their communities, and it would institute a licensing fee for people who want to sell fireworks.
“And it they would only be for sale at brick-and-mortar shops,” he said. “We’re don’t want to see a bunch of tents popping up.”