PHOENIX — State lawmakers agreed Thursday that members of the Indian community should have the right to use sparklers and similar fireworks for the festival of Diwali the same as other Arizonans now can for other holidays.
The House gave preliminary approval to legislation, which spells out that “consumer fireworks” can be sold around the time of the fall festival. Current law restricts their sale and use to the time around Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
But it’s not just Diwali, the Hindu festival of light; SB 1348 also would add the period around Cinco de Mayo as another time when Arizonans can use fireworks.
A final roll-call vote in the House will send the measure, which already has cleared the Senate, to the governor.
Several Democrats have complained that fireworks give off toxic chemicals.
“Barium produces bright brilliant green colors even though it’s poisonous and — are you ready? — radioactive,” complained Rep. Mitzi Epstein, D-Tempe.
Rep. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, said there’s a separate problem with particulates produced by consumer fireworks. She said Maricopa County is close to being declared a non-attainment area for certain kinds of fine dust, a situation that could result in sanctions by the EPA.
Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, said it would be wrong to use those concerns to kill this proposal.
“If we’re concerned about air quality, we could pave all the dirt roads in Maricopa County,” he said.
Rep. Amish Shah, D-Phoenix,
said, “Diwali is a point of pride and probably is the biggest holiday for the Indian community.”