Court decision limits fireworks sales from roadside tents |

Court decision limits fireworks sales from roadside tents

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — A court Tuesday narrowed a year-old state law that allows Pennsylvania residents to buy and use more powerful airborne fireworks, throwing out the part that permitted such sales from roadside tents.

Commonwealth Court ruled that lawmakers improperly delegated their authority by imposing safety standards set by an outside group, in violation of the state constitution.

The judges invalidated the portion of the law that addressed sales from roadside tents and similar temporary structures, but left intact the rest of the law.

That means sales of Roman candles, bottle rockets and other airborne fireworks will continue at the state’s roughly 80 brick-and-mortar fireworks stores.

The 2017 law’s 12 percent tax will also remain in place.

Display-grade fireworks are still limited to permitted operators, and some devices remain illegal under federal law, including M-80s and quarter- and half-sticks.

The lawsuit by groups of brick-and-mortar fireworks retailers against the governor, cabinet officials and legislative leaders sought to have the entire law thrown out.

Dan Peart, government affairs director for Youngstown, Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks, who helped bring the lawsuit, said there are no plans to appeal at this time.

“You will see a vast expansion now, with the brick and mortar facilities,” Peart said, predicting the tax revenue will increase as their sales grow.

The court ruled the General Assembly unconstitutionally delegated legislative authority by defining “temporary structures” according to National Fire Protection Association standards.

“The General Assembly provided no policy statement or other limiting parameters, leaving the NFPA free to create, alter or remove, as frequently or infrequently as it chooses, any standard it chooses concerning temporary structures used to sell fireworks,” wrote Judge Robert Simpson.

In fact, the NFPA regulations do not currently address retail storage and sale of consumer fireworks, as Simpson’s opinion noted.

Peart said state officials have estimated about 300 temporary retail fireworks dealers were licensed in the past year.

Retailers will be allowed to sell fireworks from tents under the new court decision, but they will be limited to the less powerful, ground-based products, Peart said.

Pennsylvania limits sales of consumer-grade fireworks to people at least 18 years old. Users must have permission of the property owner and may not use them inside buildings or motor vehicles or within 150 feet of an occupied structure. Violations are punishable by fines.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.