By Christina Calloway
CMI STAFF WRITER
City managers and fire chiefs in Clovis and Portales are in support of a Senate bill that would give local governments more control in banning fireworks.
The bill would amend the Fireworks Licensing and Safety Act to add fireworks that may be banned. This allows local governments to hold a hearing to determine if fireworks restrictions should be imposed within the boundaries of that city or county when the area is affected by extreme or severe drought conditions.
Portales Fire Marshal Mike Inge said the Public Regulation Commission is the agency which currently regulates the bans.
The bill, which got a do-pass recommendation Friday from the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee, now goes to the full Senate.
Portales Fire Chief Gary Nuckols said a similar bill has been introduced the last two years during the state’s legislative session, but the bills were unsuccessful, much to his chagrin.
“I support any fireworks legislation that allows local county governments to have more control over what fireworks they can restrict,” Nuckols said.
Without knowing too much information about the bill, Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said there are bans currently in place and isn’t sure how much more authority the legislation would give local governments.
Westerman said he does see the benefit of the bill.
“I think in general terms, one county may have received more rain and be in better shape than another county,” Westerman said as for why local control is better. “I think that would be a plus.”
Westerman added he does not know if the bill’s passage means his opinion on bans would be invited, because he said the Curry County Commission does not consult with the department when enacting burn bans.
Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said he can’t imagine the city commission not supporting such a bill.
“It gives the municipalities the latitude to be able to deal with current drought conditions,” Thomas said.
He added that it could be extremely dry in this area, but if other parts of the state received more precipitation, then the decision to ban fireworks on a city and county basis is the best option.
Portales City Manager Doug Redmond mirrored what Thomas said.
“Anytime on any regulation or restriction, I’m always in favor of the local governing body being the one to set that,” Redmond said.
Nuckols said bans are usually issued statewide.
“A lot of it counts on the particular drought conditions,” Nuckols said.
Nuckols think if local governments are given that power, the decision will be dependent on the current drought conditions during firework season.