Nebraska passes fireworks upgrade

LINCOLN – State Sen. Julie Slama says there’s no need to cross the border for fireworks this year.

The state Legislature passed her LB152 to legalize fireworks to the same level as Nebraska’s neighboring states, including Missouri and South Dakota.

During debate, Slama said adopting federal standards for consumer fireworks will eliminate incentive for people to travel out of state for fireworks. She noted that Missouri had $51 million in fireworks sales in 2019, while Nebraska had just $6.6 million.

The bill also authorizes the State Fire Marshal to test commercially available fireworks in response to complaints and declare them unsafe, if necessary.

The bill passed on a 43 to 3 vote and takes effect immediately.

State Fire Marshal Christopher Cantrell spoke in favor of the bill noting national and international regulation of fireworks.

He said the state expanded choices for consumer fireworks in 2010, when a requirement for the fire marshal to test and list consumer fireworks that can be sold in the state was removed.

He said LB152 adds new terms to state law, including display fireworks and consumer fireworks.

LB152 removed prohibitions on firecrackers containing more than 40 milligrams of explosive and fireworks that are mounted on a stick or wire, known as bottle rockets.

Cantrell said bottle rockets have received approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Cantrell: “Safety improvements to bottle rockets and better regulation on the federal level have lessened the fires and safety injury risk associated .. with these products.”

He said the bill authorizes the fire marshal to remove fireworks from the market if they are deemed unsafe, such as wire sparklers.

He said there are numerous injuries from sparklers among young children. Sparklers burn at temperatures ranging from 1,800 to 3,000 degrees.

He said they can also be misused by binding them together to create incendiary devices.