HARRISBURG, Pa. - A member of Berks County's delegation of state lawmakers is hoping to put an end to the nightly nuisance of fireworks being heard in and around Reading and across the commonwealth.
Schwank, a Democrat, said Monday that she wants the Legislature to reverse course on a 2017 decision to expand the use of consumer-grade fireworks in Pennsylvania.
Schwank said her bill to repeal the state's Fireworks Act of 2017 is inspired by municipalities and police and fire departments across the state that are unable to mitigate resident complaints about fireworks.
Just last week, Reading's police chief said he was increasing the number of officers on patrol at night to better handle the increase in complaints about fireworks in the city.
One Reading resident told the city council last week that people in his neighborhood are setting off fireworks every night from dusk until about 2 a.m.
"I've heard from many constituents who are unhappy with the increase in booms, bangs and ear-splitting explosions throughout the year," Schwank said. "This law is broken, and it needs to be repealed. Too many of our residents are getting hurt and even killed."
Schwank, who voted against the 2017 bill, said she is seeking additional support from her colleagues before formally introducing the legislation to repeal it.
Reading fire Chief William Stoudt Jr. said last year that he and his colleagues across the state were also pushing for a repeal of the law because of the greater danger posed by large fireworks.
"Whoever wrote that law ought to come down here and see what's going on and see what he thinks," Councilman Stratton Marmarou, a former police officer, said in response to Stoudt.
Those comments came after Independence Day fireworks last summer sparked a fire on the roof of Amanda Stout Elementary School in Reading and badly damaged several classrooms.
That fire prompted Schwank to introduce legislation that would have allowed municipalities to regulate and limit the use of fireworks in their cities, boroughs and townships, but the bill never moved out of committee.