ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — It's no secret almost all of the state is in a severe state of drought. Firefighters are already gearing up for another bad fire season, and lawmakers are talking again about cracking down on fireworks.
Fire chiefs across the state support the power to ban the sale and use of all fireworks in extremely dry conditions. Right now, cities and counties can only restrict the use of certain fireworks.
"It's important that the ones who are going to be responding and putting out the fire has the responsibility to make the decision whether or not fireworks are allowed in their jurisdiction," said Bernalillo County Deputy Fire Chief Frank Barka.
A bill to ban fireworks, backed by Gov. Susana Martinez and lawmakers from both parties,
died last session.
Albuquerque Democrat Sen. Dede Feldman, who sponsored the bill, told News 13 earlier this year that lobbyists pushed hard to kill the bill. The measure was tabled in the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee.
"Special interests and private gain have outweighed public safety and the protection of private property," said Feldman.
According to the Secretary of State's website, industry lobbyists donated money to senators on the committee who voted against the bill leading up to the session. But Democratic Sen. George Munoz from Gallup, who also voted against the ban, said that had no bearing on his decision.
"Lobbyists may donate to our campaigns, but I don't think it affects my judgement. I'll vote against them," said Munoz.
Munoz said very few fires are actually started by fireworks. He also said banning them will only cripple local vendors and won't stop people from buying them from stands on tribal lands.
"If you ban fireworks in New Mexico, that doesn't apply to the Navajo nation, even though the Navajo tribe owns land right in the middle of Gallup," said Munoz.
Munoz said he would vote for a ban on the sale and use of fireworks if the state gave vendors at least six months notice. He also said if the state is going to ban fireworks in dry conditions, then public firework shows should also be canceled.
In the past eight years, fireworks have been the causes of two major fires. The first of the big Bosque fires in Albuquerque in 2003 was started by kids playing with small fireworks. And last year,
two teens lighting fireworks started the
White Fire near Ruidoso Downs, which burned five homes and more than 10,000 acres.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.