By Associated Press - Thursday, May 21, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would legalize more fireworks sales in Iowa has won approval in the Republican-controlled state House, but its future is less clear in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The measure passed on a 53-43 vote late Wednesday. Under the proposal, retailers could sell firecrackers, roman candles and other fireworks. Currently, the state allows sales of sparklers and snakes.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, did not say whether the Senate would vote on the bill, noting Democrats had not discussed the issue.

“My personal view, in the area of the state I live in, there are lots of fireworks, it’s already there. I would say I probably lean toward supporting it, but I don’t know that in any way that’s a consensus of our caucus,” Gronstal said.

Local governments would have some power to limit or restrict firework use. Supporters have argued that the legislation would better regulate activity that is happening anyway, since residents buy fireworks in neighboring states.

“Iowans are reasonable responsible people. Why don’t we trust them,” said Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, during the debate.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 40 states and the District of Columbia had more permissive fireworks laws than Iowa as of June 2014.

But critics question the safety impact of a change. During the debate, Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids, said the bill would not improve safety and urged colleagues to “use common sense” and oppose it.

Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, sponsored a Senate version of the bill and said he supports the language passed in the House. He said there are votes to pass the measure in the Senate if it comes up.

“We put together a limited responsible bill,” Danielson said.

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