Schweyer, prime co-sponsors introduce bill to repeal Pa. fireworks law

HARRISBURG, March 19 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, along with state Reps Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, Steve Samuelson, Mike Schlossberg, all D-Lehigh, and Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, today introduced a bill which would repeal Pennsylvania’s law allowing residents to purchase and set-off powerful fireworks.

“For the past few years, I, along with many of my neighbors have been awakened at all hours of the night from the loud barrage of fireworks near my home and with the Fourth of July holiday approaching, it is time again to address this problem,” Schweyer said. “This goes beyond the borders of Allentown. Many of my colleagues in the House from Philadelphia to Easton and Pittsburgh to Erie have all shared similar fireworks problems in their communities. This legislation would repeal the most recent changes made to the fireworks law and would provide all municipalities more power to enforce the law and help restore quality of life back to city residents.”

"As the Memorial Day weekend draws closer, followed by the July Fourth holiday, so too will the inevitable calls and complaints to my office about fireworks activity," McNeill said. "Last summer, as noted by conversations I had with many residents throughout Lehigh County, it seemed as though the COVID pandemic produced an uptick in pyrotechnic use. This increased nighttime activity added to the stresses in our communities: upsetting pets, depriving many from sleep, negatively impacting our veterans with PTSD, and, in our cities, posing a safety issue. One resident described it as living in a 'war zone'.

“Although we weren't able to move legislation forward to address this issue last session, I'm confident that my House colleagues will recognize the importance of doing so now," McNeill said. 

“It has become abundantly clear that the changes that were made to the fireworks law resulted in the terrible disruption of neighborhood peace and quiet as fireworks users flagrantly disregarded the restrictions in the statue and local law enforcement officials found it difficult to enforce,” Freeman said. “Representative Schweyer’s bill to take the fireworks law back to what it was before the changes will restore the peace and quiet of our communities.”

“Act 43 did not deliver the revenue it was expected to create,” Rozzi said. “In fact, it led to a nuisance in many of our neighborhoods. For anyone who owns a pet, they likely understand the dread on the nights leading up to the July Fourth holiday. Like many people across the state, I am forced to watch my dogs race to hiding places when fireworks are set off near my house. This bill would eliminate nuisance fireworks and bring a sense of normal back to a holiday that should be celebrated – but done so responsibly.”

“Restrictions in state and local fireworks laws are not being followed, and fireworks are being set off at all hours causing major disruptions in our communities,” Samuelson said. “We need to repeal the recent changes in state law and restore the protections that existed before 2017.”

“The residents of Allentown and South Whitehall can’t take another summer full of explosions and disruptions. For our sake -- and our pets’ sake -- we need to bring this to a finale,” Schlossberg said.

House Bill 988 would repeal the most recent changes made to the fireworks law and reinstate the provisions as they existed before Act 43 and would not prohibit Pennsylvanians from using novelty fireworks or enjoying fireworks shows in their community to celebrate the Fourth of July or other holidays and special events.

Schweyer said the bill was assigned to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee for further consideration.