Georgians are a step closer to deciding whether to legalize the sale of fireworks after the state Senate approved a measure Tuesday to put the question up for a public vote.
Senate Resolution 378 proposes amending the state constitution to allow legal fireworks sales. Georgia currently allows the sale of basic fireworks such as sparklers and glow worms, but the expansion, if allowed, would permit the sale of explosive fireworks such as rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles.
Although it would ultimately put the question to voters, SR 378 must first be approved by a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House in order for it to be placed on the ballot.
It passed Senate muster on a 44-5 vote. It would need at least 120 House votes to do the same.
If voters eventually said yes, money collected by the state through fireworks sales would help pay for trauma care and firefighter services. Estimates of just how much money might be raised has varied from $2.5 million to $10 million a year.
The measure’s sponsor, Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and other proponents say the state would do better to regulate fireworks safety and financially benefit from the sales, given that residents already use them here. Thousands of Georgians every year travel to places such as Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee to buy fireworks legally and bring them home.
Opponents, however, say that legalizing explosive fireworks would result in an increase in injuries, especially among children.
Mullis has also sponsored Senate Bill 229, a companion piece of legislation that would flesh out details about just how the state would regulate sales. SB 229 has not yet received a floor vote.