About 20 different folks including members of our company testified in front of the Texas House Committee on Urban Affairs. The whole event lasted from just after 10am until nearly 4pm.
Overall, it was as to be expected. Even though the interim charge for the committee is related to urban regulation of fireworks in urbanized counties, the testimony and issues were all over the place. This included Houston fireworks limited purpose annexations (attempts by the City of Houston to annex areas to prohibit fireworks only), disaster declarations, the desires for the counties to have more power over Texas fireworks sales and use, San Antonio Safe Fireworks Shooting Areas, and so on. We even had one man claiming to speak for the “common man” raging against the fireworks legally shot in his neighborhood. That’s what happens when you allow open testimony!
For Fireworks fans living in Texas, the most important thing you can do is write and phone the members of the committee. Express your support of the fireworks industry in Texas and request they expect the counties to work with vendors to create a compromise that will balance the joy of fireworks with fire safety. This effort is just starting as the legislative session starts in early 2009.
Every fireworks vendor in our state believes there’s significant fire danger in times of drought. It’s a sad fact that dry grass and high wind combined to create a ton of fires in San Antonio on 12/31/2007. Awful. Counties, however, look at the fire danger issues in black and white when there are truly compromise solutions that minimize fire danger, allow us to stay in business and allow people to enjoy the holidays with fireworks. I personally hope we can get the legislature on board as counties just want to take the easy way out and ban all fireworks whenever they feel like it. I’m realistic and hope the counties will be too.