Indiana Legislation to Expand Fireworks Dates

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A bill that would expand the definition of legal fireworks to include audible and explosive devices has advanced through the committee process in the House and Senate.
(Published Mar 26, 2018)

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Despite opposition from the League, the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, the state fire marshal and others, a bill that expands the definition of fireworks in Minnesota to include audible and explosive devices has advanced to the full House and the full Senate.

HF 329, authored by Rep. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City), was heard and passed in committees in 2017, so it was simply referred back to the General Register. The Senate companion, SF 235, sponsored by Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), advanced to the floor from the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on March 22.

The League has long opposed fireworks expansion legislation and raised the following objections in a March 19 letter to legislators:

The League is opposed to any expansion of the sale and use of consumer fireworks in Minnesota because the products are dangerous.
Fireworks that would be allowed under this bill will impact neighborhoods and communities. Aerial fireworks travel away from the property of the person who lights them and onto other properties. Likewise, noise travels.
The increased use of fireworks will create conflicts between neighbors over noise, debris, and property damage. Cities will be left trying to help people resolve these disputes and will have more difficulty if the offending fireworks are legal.
A similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Dayton in 2012, primarily over safety concerns.

One significant change from the 2012 bill is that the legislation does allow local units of government by ordinance to prevent the sale and use of aerial and audible devices. Although this provision provides more local control than the previous iteration, it does not alleviate concerns about potential increased availability of the products, which will lead to noise and nuisance complaints.

Other provisions in the bill include the following:

Maintains the requirements in current law that “legal fireworks” may not be used on public property, or purchased by people younger than 18 years of age, and that people selling legal items verify the purchaser’s age by photographic identification.
Retains the cap on the annual license fee that local units of government may charge to retail sellers of novelties and aerial and audible devices at $350. (The maximum fee for retailers of sparkling devices is $100.) Authorizes local governments to charge a separate $100 fee for each additional retail location a licensee operates.
Prohibits local units of government from imposing other fees on the retail or wholesale sale of novelties and aerial and audible devices.
Pre-empts local regulation of sparkling devices and novelties.
Provides that counties have the same authority as statutory cities to regulate the use of aerial and audible devices, display fireworks, sparkling devices, and novelties.

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