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County judge on fireworks ban: "I would ask the court again."

By Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
Published On: Apr 22 2013 07:13:38 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 07:13:37 PM CST

ABC-7's Matthew Smith reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

Fireworks have been rare in El Paso County for the past two years.

Commissioners voted to ban all fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday in 2011. They did the same in 2012. With drought indexes already showing worse conditions than last year, it appears we're heading down the same path again in 2013.

"I would ask the court again," said El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar, pointing to worsening conditions.

The judge's plans may not be a done deal. Three house bills proposed in the state legislature could block the Judge's plans.

County lobbyists relayed info to their counties this week that legislators are trying to change the powers that counties have when it comes to banning fireworks.

House bill 3226, 3429 and 3557 all aim to remove the county's power to ban fireworks.

On Monday, commissioners voted 3-to-2 to challenge those bills. Commissioners Dan Haggerty and Sergio Lewis accounted for the two "no" votes.

Lewis told ABC-7 that he didn't back all three bills, but saw merit in a third bill that is being backed by many businesses tied to firework sales.

"I just feel that the bill is allowing some flexibility and compromise," said Lewis.

Lewis said he liked the idea of one bill that based the ban of fireworks on the drought index. He said it would allow charities that sell fireworks to fund children's sports to operate, and bring more fun back to Fourth of July weekend.

Escobar said she thought it was too dangerous, and pointed out that other county judges were joining her in an attempt to hold onto powers to ban fireworks.

"County judges are pretty united on opposing the legislation because it removes control completely," said Escobar.

The three bills all sit before the House State Affairs Committee in Austin.

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