Most of us learn at a young age not to touch a hot stove. Experience teaches us that there can be unwanted consequences.
We’re thinking of that lesson as we consider a bill sponsored by our Legislative District 14 Sen. David Gowan. Provisions of SB 1667, for which Sen. Gowan is the primary sponsor, would allow the sale of “multiple tube aerial devices” in Arizona’s two largest counties.
Why would Sen. Gowan want to change the law governing fireworks?
One reason may be his business. Sen. Gowan has at least an indirect financial interest in the availability of more legal fireworks. He is known to have operated a temporary location where fireworks are sold in the Chandler area.
That financial involvement prompted fellow lawmakers to question another bill which Sen. Gowan sponsored – and Gov. Ducey signed into law – during the first session of the 54th Legislature last year. Our Senator successfully changed Arizona statues with SB 1348, which increased the number of days that fireworks can be sold.
The heat in the kitchen that is the State Legislature increased during that debate, with statewide headlines pointing to a possible conflict of interest for Sen. Gowan. He brushed those concerns aside and pointed to the sanctity of Arizona’s “citizen Legislature” which expects lawmakers to hold jobs in addition to serving at the Capitol. He also argued that his side business didn’t generate much money.
Now he’s back with SB 1667, seeking to change state law to expand the variety of products he might sell through his side business. Sen. Gown is again trivializing any potential conflict of interest and further contending that Arizona is simply keeping up with New Mexico, which already allows the sale of explosive fireworks.
Where exactly, do we draw the line?
It’s apparently OK for Sen. Gowan to profit from legislation he sponsors – Gov. Ducey signed last year’s bill to prove that point. We’re also going to justify adding explosive fireworks to the mix of legal devices to keep up with our neighbors and regardless of additional safety concerns.
Among all the pressing issues facing Arizona – our maligned education system, the urgent need to repair infrastructure, criminal justice reform and other challenges – we don’t remember Cochise County constituents demanding that Maricopa and Pima counties be allowed to sell explosive fireworks.
We question whether Sen. Gowan is serving the interests of those he represents, or his own interests.