Fireworks bills sparks debate among Commissioners

Fireworks bills sparks debate among Commissioners
Monday, April 22, 2013 - 4:40pm

Commissioners Court ultimately decides to oppose HB 3429, HB 3236 and HB 3557

El Paso County Commissioners are seeking to snuff out three state fireworks bills that would ultimately leave the county virtually powerless against their regulation. However, not all the commissioners saw eye-to-eye and even argued, firework sales may ultimately spark more sales tax here in El Paso.

The debate over fireworks at Monday's Commissioner's Court meeting may not have been as spectacular as the real thing, but based on the commissioners opposing views, it was just as explosive. Commissioners voted three-to-two in favor of opposing House Bills 3429, 3236, and 3557.

"Being in a desert, being in a dry climate, it's much better that we can make the determination our own, here on a local level," Vince Perez, County Commissioner with Precinct 3, told us. These bills would limit local counties from deciding whether or not they can sell fireworks. "Rather than someone from Austin where they get a lot more rain than we do," Perez added.

But not all of the Commissioners were on the same page. Commissioner Sergio Lewis, who represents Precinct 2 believes HB 3429 is reasonable. This bill would only regulate certain fireworks during a drought. "To me, it's a very fair approach, a very fair compromise. It shows flexibility on the state level to allow people to still enjoy 4th of July," Lewis stated.

State Representative, Naomi Gonzalez, agrees with the commissioner's vote and told us over the phone, "This would potentially create a safety issue with counties like El Paso, where we have severe drought conditions. And so the removal of the county's authority to regulate the sales and use of fireworks would really be an overstep of the state authority," Rep. Gonzalez said.

But Commissioner Lewis still sees the silver lining, "If there's no fireworks, or if there's a ban, then there's no fundraising efforts for these youth organizations that really, really rely on that," he said.


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