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DeWine signs bill changing Ohio fireworks laws, allowing bigger store showrooms

 A display of fireworks at a store in central Ohio
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
A display of fireworks at a store in central Ohio

As he said he might, Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a bill allowing bottle rockets, Roman candles and other consumer grade fireworks to be set off in Ohio on more than 15 days each year:

  • New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day
  • Chinese New Year
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Memorial Day weekend
  • Juneteenth
  • July 3, 4, and 5 and the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays before and after July 4
  • Labor Day weekend
  • Diwali

Those fireworks have been illegal in Ohio since 1972.

Local governments will still have the power to restrict the dates and times that the fireworks can be set off. And the law bans people in possession of or under the influence of alcohol or drugs from lighting fireworks.

Lawmakers have been trying for years to change the state's fireworks laws, after getting rid of the "liar's law" in 2016. That required fireworks buyers to sign a form stating that they would not set off the fireworks they purchased in Ohio but would do so in another state.

DeWine said earlier this month the bill was an improvement over a fireworks bill he vetoed in July, but he wasn’t thrilled about either.

“I think you know that I’m not in favor of expanding the use of fireworks in the state of Ohio by amateurs,” DeWine said when speaking to reporters after an event with the British ambassador in his Statehouse office.

But he said in a statement announcing he’d signed the bill that it's limited to what he called "the more traditional holidays".

And it also maximizes the size of fireworks stores showrooms at 7,500 square feet and includes sprinkler requirements. Current law allows showrooms of up to 5,000 square feet. The earlier bill had no sprinkler requirements and would allow showrooms of 10,000 square feet.

In his veto of the previous bill, DeWine noted a 1996 fire at a fireworks store in Scottown in Lawrence County where nine people died after a lit cigarette ignited a display. Ohio's safety law on fireworks stores changed after that fire, including the banning of smoking and lighters in those retailers. Other states also followed suit.

DeWine noted if he didn’t sign this bill, “the bill that I vetoed, that can be overridden.” So could this bill, because both passed by supermajorities votes in the House and Senate.

The bill had an emergency clause so it immediately went into effect with DeWine's signature.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.