Council Passes Resolution, Hopes For Grass Roots Support

By Kayla Moody

Published 07/28 2014 10:23PM

Updated 07/28 2014 11:14PM

Evansville City Council passes a resolution asking for home rule on firework regulations. Council members recently tried to scale back the time frame fireworks can be used around the Fourth of July, only to find out state law prevents them from doing so.

The city's ordinance allows folks to set off fireworks for 11 days around July 4, including the holiday itself. While some council members believe this is excessive, state law says it's the minimum municipalities can allow. Indiana code prevents local government from decreasing the number of days Hoosiers can set off fireworks.

Monday the council passed a resolution 8-0 supporting a statutory amendment that would allow cities, like Evansville, to have more say when it comes to local firework regulations.

"Why do I have to stay awake 4 o'clock in the morning, flinching in bed cause canons [are] coming over top of my house?" asked Evansville resident Michael Weir during the meeting.

"Theres 11 days that we cant do anything about around July 4th and also on December 31st and January 1st. We can't do anything about that. Nothing. And you're asking us to reduce that and we can't," said Council Finance Chair Conor O'Daniel, D-Council At Large.

The resolution is a symbolic show of support to encourage legislators to take up the issue next year. While the council seems to agree local government should have home rule, not everyone agrees the number of days fireworks are allowed should be decreased.

O'Daniel said he agreed with giving cities more say in local firework rules, but noted any changes to the city's ordinance would be discussed in the future. He and other council members also voiced their skepticism that a change in regulations would translate to a behavioral change in people who violate the city's current ordinance.

Enforcement continues to be an issue. "They just don't seem to have the manpower with the amount of violations going on," said Council President John Friend, D-Ward 5, who recently talked to members of law enforcement about the issue.

"There should be tickets written on this, people need to be made examples of, and maybe then the parents will stop this," said Maureen Mattingly. The Evansville resident said she understands police resources are limited, but suggests even a few tickets could make a sizable impact.

"I am amazed, all do respect, that there aren't more tickets written," echoed resident Pat Borst.

Council members say they'll send a copy of the resolution to other major cities and towns around the Hoosier state to start a grass roots effort, one they hope will make some noise during the upcoming legislative session.

"It is tough to change state law. I love home rule but I'm not sure we're gonna get it," said Councilman Dr. H. Dan Adams, D-Council At Large.

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