HAWAII STATE CAPITOL (KHNL) - A Hawaii lawmaker plans to introduce a bill Friday that would ban all non-commercial fireworks, less than a week before the Chinese New Year. In only the second day of the new session, Rep. Roy Takumi (D-Pearl City, Momilani, Pacific Palisades) says banning the sale and use of fireworks is a priority.
This is just the beginning and still has to go several more steps before it can even be considered into law. Rep. Takumi says it's an important public safety and health issue, but many right here in Chinatown say it's a slap in the face to their community.
People in Hawaii have celebrated with fireworks for decades, but that could come to an end if lawmakers push through a bill that bans all non-commercial fireworks.
"Clearly over the years I've come to realize the current law we have is unenforceable and not working," said Takumi. "And when I talk to people, they agree."
Takumi will introduce two bills: one calling for a statewide ban, and another which would ban fireworks only on Oahu, and leave the decision up to each neighbor island.
"Over the years, I've gotten an increased number of calls in my district and in other parts of the state, saying, 'Please legislators, can you at least discuss this issue and try to come up with some resolution?'" said Takumi.
But folks like Ted Li say that's unfair to the Chinese community.
"On one hand the government officials are encouraging us to perpetuate our culture, so fireworks are a very major part of our culture," said Li, who is the president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
"It really begs the question however when that tradition impinges on the rights of privacy, of the right of people to live in peace and quiet in their communities," said Takumi.
But Li says lawmakers should be accountable to their constituents.
"You know whoever introduce a bill would not be re-elected again," said Li. "I think the people would be very upset and hate that individual that introduce the bill."
Takumi hopes cooler heads prevail, and wants to work towards some sort of compromise.
"I don't know whether or not this year we're going to accomplish a lot," said Takumi. "But what I'm hoping is there is a discussion on the issue."
A discussion on a hot button issue.