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This legislation gives counties the ability to adopt a resolution to make the use of fireworks at rest areas in the unincorporated areas of their counties a Class C Misdemeanor. We understand that some counties may need the flexibility to adopt a resolution like this in order to prevent irresponsible behavior in areas that have a higher potential for fires to start.
Overall this bill is narrowly constructed in that it permits counties to request the prohibition rather than creating a blanket statewide prohibition, requires counties to bear the cost of designing, constructing, and erecting warning signs, and includes a high threshold for conviction by requiring a prosecutor to prove that a defendant knowingly committed an offense.
Any time we review a bill that creates a new offense we scrutinize it carefully with an eye toward opposing on the grounds that it grows the size and scope of government. In this case we found that HB 570 creates a careful balance between the proper exercise of government authority and the protection of individual liberty. The bill achieves this balance in three specific ways:
1. It does not mandate the creation of a new offense. Instead it allows an offense to be created under certain narrow circumstances at the request of local government.
2. The offense is very minor with a penalty that is not disproportionate.
3. The threshold to obtain a conviction is appropriately high.
There are good reasons why some counties may wish to prohibit fireworks in certain areas; to prevent the outbreak of wildfire in a time of drought for example. In our view this bill fits within the proper role of a limited government in a society based on ordered liberty. We support this SB 570.