It’s nearly July 4, and all across the state people are stocking up on fireworks. Those fireworks could have become more expensive under a tax proposal Gov. Jerry Brown pushed as part of his budget. Despite the fact Brown got nearly everything he wanted during this year’s budget negotiations, the fireworks tax fizzled out. Legislative staffers from both parties say there’s no way it will become law this year.
A 300,000-Pound Backlog
Most Californians buy fireworks from the roadside stands that pop up in the week before the Fourth of July. The West Sacramento Little League operates one. Paul Crews was manning the booth Tuesday afternoon and said the organization was hoping to raise $12,000 this week. He pointed to fireworks packs with names like “49er” and “The Opening Show” as his most popular items. An item called “Piccolo Pete,” which lets out an ear-piercing five-second screech, also does well.
The state labels these authorized, licensed fireworks as “safe and sane.” They don’t explode. Anything more intense is probably illegal. Local authorities confiscate the illegal fireworks they come across, and eventually pass the contraband along to California’s fire marshal. Cal Fire typically ends up with about 100,000 pounds of illegal fireworks every year.
It turns out that getting rid of these illegal fireworks is pretty complicated.