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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 23, 2010

That bill on fireworks? What a dud!

The truth is, Senate Bill 1059, this year's pallid attempt to confront the noise, smoke and danger of fireworks, is hardly worth discussion.

So whether it is passed or suffers a death blow at the hands of two rebellious lawmakers makes no difference in the lives of Hawai'i residents who have waited years for their elected leaders to get up the nerve to disappoint the fireworks lovers among their constituencies.

That's because SB 1059 is a cop out. Instead of what was really needed a statewide ban on private fireworks displays, except under tightly controlled conditions the Legislature punted. The measure merely gives counties the right to ban fireworks if they choose.

Frankly, dissident Reps. Joe Souki and Jon Riki Karamatsu, two of the three House chairmen involved in negotiations, were right to object.

Here's what happened this week: A conference committee aimed at settling the difference in House and Senate versions stalled when Souki and Karamatsu refused to sign off on the final bill. The state, not the counties, should set the laws on fireworks, they said.

Absolutely right. If any counties opt for the status quo, shipments of fireworks have those points of entry. Tough luck for any county that wants the ban Honolulu being the fulcrum of the fireworks opposition. Once fireworks are in the state, it's all but impossible to stop interisland smuggling.

Whatever happens to SB 1059 passed, vetoed, overridden, whatever the Legislature hasn't done its job. Until and unless lawmakers are willing to pass a statewide ban on fireworks use, they might as well have not bothered.