published Saturday, May 21st, 2011

East Ridge fireworks bill finally blasts through legislature

NASHVILLE — Light the fuse and get out of the way: After a quarter century of effort, East Ridge merchants will finally be able to sell fireworks.

The Tennessee Senate voted 17-7 today for a bill by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, which would legalize sales of bottle rockets, firecrackers and other assorted fireworks in East Ridge. That was the bare minimum the bill needed.

The companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, a former East Ridge mayor, passed in April so the bill now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for his consideration.

“East Ridge has been requesting this since the middle 1980s,” Watson said. “It had become a very big bill here, even to the point that we had members of Congress calling members of the [state] Senate asking them to vote against the bill.”

Vendors from nearby counties including Marion have long opposed allowing East Ridge businesses the ability to sell fireworks.

On April 7, the bill failed to pass, receiving only 12 yes votes, 11 no votes and six persons not voting. Watson said he ensured more supporters were in the chamber this time.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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