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Senate soundly shuts down year-round firework sales over amendment concerns

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TOPEKA — An effort to allow certain Kansas retailers to sell fireworks year-round fell well short of the needed votes Monday, after some state Senators raised concerns about an amendment that could have lead to a fireworks ban.

The bill would have allowed retailers that are open year-round to sell fireworks from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, and seasonal retailers from June 15 to July 6. Currently, all vendors may sell only from June 27 to July 5.

However, an amendment by Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, would have required all Kansas counties to opt-in to firework season. That means retailers currently selling could be at risk of seeing their fireworks sells outlawed if county officials did not opt-in.

“Fireworks are an important part of our celebrations in the state of Kansas from our Independence Day celebration to celebrate the freedom of the United States to when your favorite football team or baseball team either hits a homerun or scores a touchdown,” said Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, R-Baxter Springs. “I believe that should not be something that you need to opt in to.”

The measure failed with only two votes in favor and 34 votes against. Sen. Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson, and Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson, voted in favor of the bill. 

Before adding the amendment, supporters of the measure said the bill would make Kansas more competitive with bordering states. For example, Missouri allows fireworks sales for seasonal retailers from June 20 to July 10 and from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2, while stores open year-round are able to sell them all year.

Opponents of the bill also said they feared allowing seasonal retailers a longer period of operation could hurt mom and pop stores. While the measure would not have changed the period during which Kansans can shoot fireworks legally, some senators worried more sales would inevitably lead to unsupervised and unapproved use, which would increase the threat of wildfires.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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