NE Legislature Taking Up Novelty Lighter Issue

Paul Gutierrez

OMAHA (KPTM) - Legislators in Nebraska are debating a proposal this week that would no longer allow retailers to sell novelty lighters in the state.

LB 403, introduced by Senator Les Seiler of Hastings, is designed to keep fire hazards out of the hands of young children. The prohibition, if passed, would apply to those lighters that look like toys, such as wrenches or cell phones.

"They're generally simple devices to use," said Fire Chief Bill Bowes of Papillion. "They don't have the safety features traditional lighters have."

Some lawmakers also fear the possibility of more fires if retailers are allowed to continue to sell. According to the National Fire Protection Association's website, close to 45,000 fires were started in 2010 by somebody just playing around with a reported 90 deaths and $210 million in direct fire damage.

"This is a good discussion to have," said Bowes.

In Nebraska, this isn't the first time the issue has come up. Lawmakers also heard arguments last year from volunteer firefighters.

"Each succeeding year more people become familiar with it and they understand the issue a little better."

Not all lawmakers are on board with the plan. FOX 42 News reached out to Senator Bill Kintner of Papillion Wednesday afternoon. He released the following statement:

"This bill is another step down the road of an expanded nanny state. There are many potential dangers in the household that could injure a child and the state should not go down the road of trying to make every household danger-proof. That is rightly the job of the parents."

State senators spent about four hours debating the measure Wednesday morning. We're told talks are expected to resume Thursday.