Pennsylvania Legislator Tries to Ban Municipal Limits on Fireworks with HB1628

Pennsylvania State Representative Robert Freeman introduced House Bill HB1628 on June 15, 2021, that reputes to “regulate fireworks”—a huge and growing problem in Pennsylvania after the 2017 expansion of fireworks sales in Pennsylvania to allow extremely powerful explosives.

HB1628

  • prohibits communities from limiting fireworks by imposing mandatory state minimum time-frames for fireworks detonations—allowing fireworks a staggering 11 hours per day any day, 12 hours per day on weekends, and 14 hours per day on specified holidays (municipalities CANNOT reduce these time limits under this proposed law);
  • minimizes penalties for a first-offenses to a mere summary offense with a minimum fine of $100; and
  • bans municipalities from addressing fireworks more stringently than HB1628 (gag legislation).

The proposed act contains nominal requirements on fireworks peddlers requiring them to provide notice of the mandatory time limits and contains a provision that grades second-offenses within the same year as a misdemeanor.

Only in government-speak does HB1628 represent “regulation.”

HB1628 simply exacerbates the unconstitutional assaults on community members (and pets) from powerful explosives. Rather than respect the constitutional rights of citizens to the quiet enjoyment of their property without assault from outrageously loud explosives, the Legislature continues under the defective reasoning, “gee, the perpetrators will just buy the illegal fireworks out-of-state so the government should at least get some Pennsylvania taxes by allowing these explosives and then taxing sales in-state.” Instead, how about repealing the sneaky 2017 tax legislation and instead increasing penalties for detonating explosives to felonies with mandatory minimum jail time?

The Legislature must repeal the 2017 tax provisions now, not exacerbate the fireworks problem by barring communities from  meaningfully addressing this problem. See HB988 for a competing bill repealing the fireworks law.