ATLANTA -- Some Georgia cities and counties might curtail late-night fireworks, but they will also see a fireworks tax used to pay for firefighting and other safety measures under bills passed by the state Legislature this week.
Right now, Georgians can launch their bottle rockets and Roman candles from 10 a.m. to midnight most days, and until 2 a.m. on Dec. 31, Jan. 1, July 3 and July Fourth.
But the state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would give cities and counties a new power to locally limit pyrotechnics to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. If a city or county does not add a restriction, revelers can use fireworks from 10 a.m. to midnight on those days, just as they are allowed now.
Meanwhile, cities and counties could not restrict the four dates already singled out in law. Tuesday's Senate measure calls for people to pack it in by 1 a.m. on New Year's Day and midnight on the other days.
The House already has approved a similar bill. The two sides have until the session ends on March 24 to send a compromise bill to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk.
Some critics, especially in more densely populated places, want local governments to have more power to restrict fireworks.
The state House also approved an idea similar to one that already has the Senate's OK: to spend a fireworks excise tax worth about $1 million annually on trauma care, firefighters and 911 service.
The Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission would get 55 percent of the money. That commission helps bankroll operations in the state's emergency rooms, such as care for people who are unable to pay their bills. Another 45 percent would be spent to help equip and train firefighters statewide. The rest would help fund 911 services.
The decision on the spending ultimately would require Georgia voter approval in a November referendum.
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