In the weeks after the state of Iowa began allowing the sale and use of fireworks in 2017, the Quad-Cities saw a deluge of complaints about the noise that suddenly enveloped neighborhoods.
The din got so bad that the City of Davenport moved in the immediate aftermath of the July 4th holiday to put a ban in place.
The Iowa Legislature's decision two years ago to lift the decades-old statewide ban prohibited cities from outlawing the sale of fireworks, but it still gave them lots of discretion in regulating their use.
Some cities, like Cedar Rapids, decided to ban their use. That actually did not come to pass in the Quad-Cities.
Here, local officials got together across municipal lines and came up with a solution, passing ordinances that limit the use of fireworks on July 3 and 4 to the hours of 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
There's also a 2 1/2 hour window to shoot off fireworks on New Year's Eve.
We appreciate that kind of regional cooperation.
We know the local rules haven't completely resolved the issue. Davenport Police said last July the number of complaints in the previous month were up over the year before. And Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn told us this week he continues to hear from people who want even greater restrictions.
Still, it was a balanced approach.
Well, that balance could be upended by a bill working its way through the Iowa Senate. If it passes as written, the bill would impose state control over the hours that fireworks can be used on the July 4th holiday.
Proponents of the legislation say the idea here is to clear up confusion. They don't like the patchwork of local rules.
But where others see a flaw in the current setup, we see wisdom. At least that's how it worked out in this area.
Officials in Davenport, Bettendorf, Eldridge, Scott County and elsewhere know what their constituents want. They know because they heard from them in the aftermath of the Legislature's 2017 change. And they've heard from them ever since.
They've responded by working diligently to try to show respect for the tradition of setting off fireworks on our nation's birthday — and still take into account the very real negative impact this practice can have on people with post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments, along with their pets.
It's a balance that, we suspect, might differ in other parts of Iowa. What works in rural parts of the state might be different than in a city like Davenport, where neighbors aren't so spread apart from one another.
We hear so often about how once-size-fits-all legislation is bad. Yet, in Des Moines — as long as they're the ones making the call — that kind of thing seems to be OK.
We're not sure where this bill will end up, or how much it might change. As we read it, the current version would expand the hours in which fireworks could be set off beyond what currently is allowed in the Quad-Cities. And, of course, cities like Cedar Rapids would no longer be able to ban their use.
Local governments are fighting this legislation.
There are concerns about local control being siphoned away.
We would add our concerns about the possible impact on resources. Public safety agencies are busy enough — and they say they're really kept hopping responding to fireworks complaints around the July 4th holiday. How much more would this add to their workload?
We also are curious about what might be next. What happens if somebody in the legislature decides that state control over the use of fireworks should go beyond July 4? After all, their sale is permitted beginning on June 1.
We like the fact that our local governments worked together to find common ground on rules regulating their use. The rules aren't perfect. We know some in our community would like to see even greater restrictions. There may be a time for that. But whether that happens or not, we think those choices ought to be made by elected leaders who are closest to the people affected.
State lawmakers chose two years ago to vest local government with the power to regulate the use of fireworks within their communities. It's too early to abandon that approach now.