A legislative panel has recommended killing a bill that would outlaw some fireworks in New Hampshire.
But the chairman of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee said she will file a bill to give a state board powers to strictly regulate fireworks.
“Fireworks have gotten out of hand,” said Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth.
Rep. Charlene Takesian, R-Pelham, had sponsored the ban, House Bill 336, after a fireworks explosion injured 13 people in Pelham during a Fourth of July celebration in 2012.
Co-sponsored by Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, it would have outlawed reloadable shells, as well as so-called helicopters and parchute aerial devices.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office concluded reloadable shells contributed to the Pelham accident.
The House panel held the bill for more study over the summer and fall, but recently concluded it was best to kill the proposal and approach fireworks safety through regulation rather than a ban.
Takesian said she will speak to Pantelakos about co-sponsoring the new bill, though she had hoped the ban would pass.
“After they reworked it, it looked like it was going to pass. Then at the last minute they (killed) it,” Takesian said.
Pantelakos would instead let a state board closely regulate fireworks, Takesian said.
Pantelakos acknowledged there were concerns the ban could potentially hurt businesses that already had stocked up on the fireworks.
“You can’t do that once they get on the shelves,” she said.
But Pantelakos is troubled by what she’s seeing in the marketplace since the Legislature, over objections from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, eased up on fireworks regulation a couple of years ago.
She said too much is now left to federal standards without regard to what the Granite State would deem safe.
“People of New Hampshire should decide,” Pantelakos said.
At the same time, Pantelakos doesn’t want to overreact to the tragedy in Pelham.
“It was a terrible thing, but that was human error,” she said. “You can’t undo human errors.”
Pantelakos sees a need for regulation, though. She recalls the days of too little regulation in New Hampshire.
“The fireworks in New Hampshire were being sold on every street corner,” Pantelakos said. “It needs to be controlled.’’
Pantelakos said the State Fire Marshal’s Office would have representation on her proposed product review board, as would the fireworks business within the state.
“People who really care about the people of the state,” she said.
The state does have a fireworks advisory board, though proponents of tighter regulation say its powers were weakened by the legislative reforms of a couple of years ago.
The Legislature will take up Pantelakos’s bill in January.
The product review board would be in place next summer, if she has her way.
“If it passes the House and Senate, I would ask this be done in July,” she said.
That could mean new regulations for fireworks in time for the Fourth of July celebrations of 2015.
“The following July, we would have a little better control of it,” Pantelakos said.