House passes fireworks expansion

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The numbers and types of fireworks allowed in Minnesota could be on the upswing.

Sponsored by Rep. John Kriesel (R-Cottage Grove) and Sen. Michael Jungbauer (R-East Bethel), HF1774/ SF1694* would expand legal fireworks in Minnesota to include bottle rockets, firecrackers and other aerial and audible fireworks.

It was approved as amended 77-50 by the House, and now returns to the Senate, where its version passed 41-22 April 17.

Current Minnesota law allows for the use of party poppers, snappers, toy smoke devices, snakes, glow worms or sparklers.

To address some local control concerns, the bill would permit local governments to enact ordinances that would restrict the use to ensure they are being safely used and in a limited timeframe. The sale and use of aerial and audible fireworks would be restricted in Minnesota from June 1 to July 7 of any year. “This is an effort to compromise and make sure we’re giving the most comfort for people that were concerned,” Kriesel said. “That’s the time of year that most people want to use them anyway.”

Local governments would be permitted to charge an annual license fee to stores wanting to sell consumer fireworks, but they couldn’t, among other things, regulate structures where fireworks could be sold or establish insurance or bonding requirements for fireworks retailers beyind those imposed on other businesses.

Supporters note that many Minnesotans already cross into neighboring states to spend their money for fireworks.

Among arguments made by opponents was that fireworks are dangerous, especially to children.

Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) offered, then withdrew, an amendment that would have required adults who are supervising youth to not be under the influence. Supporters noted you can’t hunt or drive a snowmobile while under the influence.

“This namby-pamby-nanny-state-no-fun-we-have-to-tell-you-what-to-do-attitude has to stop,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington). “I’ve got a message for everybody about these fireworks: we’re already buying them. … Let’s make sure that we don’t turn every citizen into a criminal. Let’s give them the opportunity just to have a little bit of fun.”

Countered Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), “The Legislature probably should be somewhere between the fun police and reckless endangerment of children by drunk adults.”