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Bill would legalize more fireworks in Florida

Should more fireworks be legal in Florida? State Representative Matt Gaetz thinks so. The Fort Walton Beach Republican has introduced a bill that would legalize fireworks, specifically the booming and projectile kind many people buy out of state.

Fireworks stores just over the state line in Alabama make big bucks, especially around Independence Day. It's no secret that many of their customers come from Florida.

"Yes, I go to Lillian, Alabama," said Betty Fuller, of Pensacola, who has no problem being honest about the subject.

"We still do our fireworks, even if it's illegal," Fuller said, "We don't care what they do."

Other voters we spoke with who say they haven't brought banned fireworks into Florida, were divided on the bill to make more of them legal.

Charles Clink said, "They are going out of town to get 'em and bring 'em back into the state, why not have the state capitalize off it?"

But Anne Bennett, another voter, said, "Those things are horribly dangerous!"
   
Representative Matt Gaetz says Florida is pushing economic activity out of the state with a regulation he says is relatively meaningless, since many people still buy fireworks out of state just to shoot them off here. And he says the current rules aren't making anyone safer for the same reason.

"I just think you're asking for an awful lot of medical incidences," Bennett said, "Not to mention the possibility of fires."
   
Gaetz's bill would remove existing state regulations on retail fireworks, while federal rules would still apply.

Right now, only sparklers, fountains, and a few other fireworks are legal in Florida. Ones that explode or shoot through the air are not allowed.
   
Nationwide, fireworks played a part in about 8,700 injuries last year alone.

A final decision on the bill won't be made anytime soon. The next state legislative session begins in March of 2014.

-Joe Douglass