House OKs $100 increase in fireworks fees; committees carry over statewide, year-round sales of small fireworks bill

In the fourth week of the 2020 regular session, the Alabama House approved an increase in fireworks fees, while House and Senate committees carried over broader legislation.

FEES
On a vote of 94-6-1 Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Alabama House approved legislation that would increase various fees for fireworks vendors and users. It now goes to a Senate committee for consideration.

HB69 by Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, would increase the permit cost for retailers selling fireworks from $200 to $300. The bill also allows the State Fire Marshal to increase fees every five years up to 2% based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers. Rich’s bill would generate up to $53,000 annually, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

SMALL FIREWORKS
For the second year, Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, has introduced legislation that would allow statewide, year-round sales of consumer fireworks and novelties, such as ground or hand-held sparklers and party poppers. The full Senate approved his legislation in 2019, but it never received House consideration.

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee carried over SB147 at its March 4 meeting. The House companion legislation, HB112, by Rep. Chip Brown, R-Mobile, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee on March 11.

The bills use the federal definition of consumer fireworks: small devices designed to produce audible effects, ground devices containing 50 milligrams or less of flash powder and aerial devices containing 130 milligrams (2 grains) or less of flash powder.

We are not talking about something that would make a big boom,” Melson testified last year.

Melson said he plans to amend the legislation to allow cities to authorize sales of small fireworks, while opting out of the use of fireworks within their jurisdictions.

SB147 and HB112 would generate $23,000 in additional revenue annually for enforcement, based on their fiscal notes. The bills also allow the State Fire Marshal to increase  fees every five years up to 2% based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.

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