Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Tuesday legalizing the sale of fireworks in Georgia.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, had been tabled and appeared dead at the end of the legislative session. But Sen. Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla, resurrected it in the closing hours with several last-ditch amendments that made it acceptable to a handful of opponents.
Both men had told fellow lawmakers that the state was losing money and jobs because all states that border Georgia except North Carolina allow fireworks sales. Roberts said legalizing fireworks could result in the creation of up to 1,500 jobs.
Roberts, Harper and their supporters said parental supervision is the answer to those who fear fireworks are dangerous and cause injuries to children.
Legalization of fireworks sales was opposed by health groups as well as fire and safety officials.
Dr. Evelyn Johnson of Brunswick, president of the Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement that allowing fireworks “will surely lead to many more injuries and fires.”
She said Georgia’s old fireworks law “minimized the injury and harm” and said the new measure would “needlessly send scores of children and teens to hospital emergency rooms.”
She said her organization represents more than 10,000 physicians in Georgia and that states that ban fireworks “have significantly lower rates of fireworks-related injuries and fires.”
The new law prohibits the possession of fireworks in school zones, at school functions or on school buses.