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Greg Steube files fireworks legalization bill

in Statewide by

Sis-boom-bah: state Sen. Greg Steube has filed legislation to legalize consumer fireworks in Florida.

Steube, the Sarasota Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed his bill (SB 324) Tuesday.

The legislation appears to be identical to a bill (HB 4005) filed for the 2014 Legislative Session by then-state Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican. That bill died in committee, records show.

Similar to Gaetz’s effort, Steube’s bill would repeal the prohibition on selling fireworks to the general public.

It also would remove requirements for testing and approval of sparklers and relieve those who make and sell sparklers from having to register with the state.

Although you can buy fireworks in the state, they’re not actually legal here. 

Retail sales are allowed only because of a 60-year-old loophole in the law, the only known one of its kind in the country. It allows “fireworks … to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.”

Anyone who has bought fireworks from a roadside tent over the years may remember signing a form acknowledging the buyer falls under an agricultural, fisheries or other exemption.

Fireworks can also be used for “signal purposes or illumination” of a railroad or quarry, “for signal or ceremonial purposes in athletics or sports, or for use by military organizations.”

Enforcement is up to local police and fire agencies, and case law says fireworks vendors aren’t responsible for verifying buyers actually intend to chase off egrets or light up a track meet.

As recently as 2016, only three states have outright bans on consumer fireworks: Delaware, Maine, and New Jersey, according to the American Pyrotechnic Association.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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