New bill would allow year-round sale of fireworks in Kansas

Posted at 11:14 AM, Feb 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-06 12:14:25-05

TOPEKA (KANSAS REFLECTOR) — As it stands, retail fireworks sellers in Kansas are only allowed to sell their wares from June 27 to July 6, a shorter time period than some neighboring states.

Seasonal retailers in Missouri can sell fireworks from June 20 to July 10 and from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2. Missouri also allows the sale of fireworks year round.

The Senate Commerce Committee is considering a bill that looks to expand the timeframe in Kansas from June 15 through July 6 — and allow for year-round sales.

Senate Bill 378 was introduced by Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker. The legislation closely resembles a bill from 2020. The new bill introduces a definition for annual retailers. Those looking to sell fireworks throughout the year must meet state and local fire safety regulations and obtain a license.

Doug Jorgenson, Kansas fire marshal, said licenses would be issued through the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which doesn’t intend to charge for the license.

Local governments would still control how fireworks are regulated in their jurisdictions.

Sarah Beagle, a retail firework owner in southeast Kansas, said fireworks can be shot off all year round in Allen County.

“Each individual city in the county sets their own regulations, and then the county itself sets their regulations,” Beagle said. “A hundred percent, our bigger counties, our higher-populated areas, absolutely — they shouldn’t be lighting fireworks at midnight on a Tuesday in the middle of October when kids are in school and people have jobs. It makes sense.”

Philip Bradley of the Kansas Fireworks Association said he thinks the bill covers almost everyone’s concerns.

“In no way does the bill or does our association want to impinge upon the rights of local government to make the rules that are appropriate to that area, and we support that, and that was one of the amendments we insisted on having,” Bradley said.

Beagle said the bill would match Kansas’ fireworks season to its surrounding states’ seasons.

“We are losing a lot of revenue to our surrounding states — just from things I have heard from my customers,” Beagle said. “For me, when we won the Super Bowl in 2020, there were so many fireworks that were lit off, the National Weather Service was able to see it on their radar. For me, that’s just incredible, because where’d they get them from? Sure, some people might save fireworks after the season. But for most people, if you’re like my family, it’s getting blown up that night.”

Beagle said she favored expanding the seasonal retail period, as it would help both local and bigger retailers.

“I believe it’s 13 days would be what we would add to the sell season — and that is a lot of revenue we can make in those few days,” Beagle said.

Many seasonal retailers are looking to expand in the future, Bradley said.

“They’re looking down the road, and if the law passed so that they could do that, they would start laying those plans, getting the financing they need and go into that type of a business,” Bradley said. “And, most of them would have one location in their local area, so it would make even more of those sales for the folks … who go to Oklahoma and go to Missouri stay in the state of Kansas.”

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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