Fireworks Initiative Q & A

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April 24, 2018 Special Election

Questions about Initiative No. 1:  An Act Relating to the Regulation of Consumer Fireworks

Why are fireworks back on the ballot?
An initiative petition was submitted to the City of Tumwater by Citizens for Legal Fireworks for Council consideration with a proposed ordinance that would repeal the fireworks ban by Council or voter approval. The City Council is mandated by State law to take immediate action to either adopt the proposed ordinance and repeal the existing fireworks ban - or place the Initiative on the ballot for voter consideration. The Council adopted Resolution R2018-001-S1,  placing Initiative No. 1 on the ballot.

What does the proposed ordinance call for?
The proposed ordinance, if adopted, would repeal the City's existing Ordinance No. O2016-034 that prohibits the sale, possession, and discharge of consumer fireworks at all times within the Tumwater City limits, and amend the previousTumwater Municipal Code.

The proposed new Tumwater Municipal Code is included in the full text of Initiative No. 1.

When did the City Council decide to put this on the ballot?
The City Council took action at the January 2, 2018 meeting to place Initiative No.1 on the April 24, 2018 Special Election Ballot.

How much is the City paying Thurston County Auditor's Office for the special election?
The Auditor's Office estimates election costs will be $115,000. This is a single issue ballot, so the City will pay all election costs  including signature verification, voter pamphlets, ballots and counting.

Why didn't the City wait to put this issue on the ballot during a primary or general election, and share costs with other jurisdictions?
Under State law, the City was required to hold the election at the first available election after the petitions were verified. The petitions were received on December 5, 2017, and certified by the Auditor's Office on Dec 13, 2017. Filing deadlines for the February Special Election had already passed, therefore the April 24, 2018 Special Election was the first available election.

What are the current regulations for discharge of fireworks?
The sale and discharge of fireworks within the City of Tumwater is prohibited at all times of the year with the exception of public displays and the sale, use and discharge of small trick and novelty devices. The City Council adopted Ordinance No. O2016-034 in December 2016 to prohibit fireworks, in accordance with an advisory vote by Tumwater residents favoring a citywide fireworks ban. The fireworks ban went into effect on December 8, 2017, and is described in Tumwater Municipal Code 8.30.

If Initiative No. 1 is approved will the ban be repealed immediately?
Yes, RCW 35.17.330 states “if the number of votes cast thereon favor the proposed ordinance, it shall become effective immediately and shall be made a part of the record of ordinances of the city”.

What other communities in Thurston County currently have fireworks bans in place?
The cities of Lacey and Olympia have fireworks bans in place.  Unincorporated Thurston County, Yelm, Tenino, Rainier, and Bucoda do not have bans in place. Beginning in 2017, Thurston County adopted provisions for temporary restrictions on consumer fireworks when extreme fire danger conditions exist. The remainder of the cities adhere to their municipal codes allowing for the sale and discharge of safe and sane fireworks during certain holidays, such as Independence Day and New Year's Eve.

Are there some small fireworks that are still allowed under the current ordinance? 
Trick and novelty devices are exempt as outlined in WAC 212-17-025(10). 

What are small trick and novelty devices?
"Trick and novelty devices" means any small fireworks devices that are not regulated as explosives and are not classified as consumer or display fireworks by the United States Department of Transportation. Examples include snakes, glow worms, party poppers, snappers, toy smoke devices, and toy caps. Sparklers are not considered trick or novelty devices; they are classified as consumer fireworks.  

What are “consumer fireworks?
These are defined in RCW 70.77.136 and clarified in WAC 212-17-025.

Does the ban apply to the fireworks show at the golf course on the 4th of July?
No. Licensed public displays are still allowed.