Florida could change fireworks law that's now for the birds

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Floridians would no longer have to lie about buying fireworks to scare birds away from their crops when they celebrate the Fourth of July and New Year's under a bill approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.

Fireworks that explode or fire off into the air are illegal in Florida unless they're used to scare birds away from farms and fish hatcheries. But the law is often ignored, and fireworks dealers simply have customers sign a document that says they're using fireworks for those purposes. Devices that emit showers of sparks but don't explode are legal in Florida.

“Fireworks law in Florida is one of the craziest laws we have on the books. We literally require you to commit fraud in order to purchase fireworks,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes. “You can buy sparklers in Florida, that's no problem, but you can also buy mortars. All you have to do is sign a piece of paper to say you're using them to scare birds.”

Republican Sen. Travis Hutson is sponsoring the bill that would allow the use of fireworks on the Fourth of July, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. He amended to to remove Memorial Day as another allowed holiday because of concerns were raised that it's in Florida's dry season and could increase the risk of fires.

“I believe Floridians should be able to enjoy their holidays and not be confused or discouraged by our fireworks laws,” Hutson said.

The Senate Rules Committee unanimously approved the bill and it now goes to the full Senate. A similar House bill has one more committee stop before going to the full chamber. The bill would immediately become law if it is signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.