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Wednesday, January 19, 2000

panel backs tougher
fireworks law

The Mililani Mauka/ Launani
Neighborhood Board backs a
proposed City Council
resolution on fireworks

Legislature opens

By Harold Morse


Legislature 2000 If you're caught selling more than $300 worth of illegal aerial fireworks, state Sen. Cal Kawamoto wants you to be subject to up to a $10,000 fine, five years in jail and forfeiture of property.

He told the Mililani Mauka/ Launani Neighborhood Board last night that the Senate Transportation and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee he heads wants to get tough on fireworks this legislative session.

The board unanimously voted to back a proposed City Council resolution on fireworks but will wait until its next regular meeting Feb. 15 to vote on proposals in the Legislature.

Last week, the council's Policy Committee passed a resolution asking state lawmakers either to allow counties to enact more stringent fireworks laws, ban fireworks except for cultural and religious activities, or ban fireworks in counties with more than 200,000 residents -- the City and County of Honolulu.

The board heard Kawamoto outline his plan to put teeth in the fireworks law. "We're looking at the sellers, we're looking at the guys possessing it, and we're looking at the shippers," he said.

He wants to make possession of aerial fireworks a violation. If people are holding aerial fireworks, it's not a violation now, he said. Police have to catch someone in the act of igniting them.

He would make possession punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail. If you're caught selling less than $300 worth of aerials, Kawamoto would make you subject to up to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail.

A total fireworks ban with exceptions for religious and cultural activities is under consideration by his committee, Kawamoto said.

One plan is to have counties determine what's religious and cultural, Kawamoto (D, Waipahu, Pearl City) added.

Also, a county might be allowed by law to issue, say, 500 fireworks permits and then receive half the revenue from fireworks violations fines to help meet enforcement expenses, he said.

Another idea is to restrict the time for selling fireworks, permitting no sales until 24 hours before the legal time to set them off.

Fireworks wouldn't go on sale for New Year's until 9 p.m. Dec. 30, he said.

Fire chiefs and police chiefs from all islands will meet next Wednesday on the fireworks issue, Kawamoto said.

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