Michigan House approves bill expanding types of fireworks that can be sold in state

By Tim Martin, AP
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Michigan House approves fireworks sales expansion

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan might put more bang into its Fourth of July holiday if bills approved Wednesday by the state House eventually become law.

Legislation that would legalize higher-grade, more powerful fireworks in the state passed the Democrat-led chamber and is now headed to the Republican-run Senate, which is expected to at least consider the proposal.

The legislation could change the summer routine for state residents who now drive into Indiana and other states to buy fireworks that aren’t legal in Michigan. Bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles are among the fireworks that would become legal if the proposal becomes law. Michigan’s current list of legal fireworks for residents without special permits is limited to sparklers, toy noisemakers and similar devices.

The main bill in the package passed the House by a 79-28 vote, in part because of the state’s financial and economic problems. Supporters of the legislation say the prospects of raising money for the state and possibly creating some fireworks-related jobs are a motivating factor.

Rep. Harold Haugh, a Democrat from Roseville and a key sponsor, said the legislation would raise more than $5 million a year for the state. Much of the revenue would go to state fire safety programs.

The legislation would put a 5 percent fee on sales of the newly legal fireworks. Businesses would pay the state $5,000 for their initial licenses to sell the fireworks. Renewals would cost $2,500. Nonprofit organizations would have significantly lower fees.

The higher-grade fireworks would have to be sold in a building with a retail area of at least 1,000 square feet, one of the safety features contained in the legislation.

Haugh would like to get the package finished in time for this summer’s prime fireworks season, although that seems unlikely given it’s already May.

“We still have a goal of trying to get this done this year,” Haugh said. “I know that seems impossible, but I’m not giving up on the goal.”

Some lawmakers have received automated phone calls opposing the legislation. Haugh dismissed them as likely coming from out-of-state interests that don’t want to lose the business they now receive from Michigan customers crossing the border.

Matt Marsden, a spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, said Senate Republicans would be open to considering the legislation.

The bills to legalize more types of fireworks in the state are House Bills 5999-6000.

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