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Fireworks bill survives committee test

  • Blog Post by: Jim Ragsdale
  • April 5, 2012 - 11:16 AM

A bill that would make Minnesota a fireworks-friendly state survived a committee challenge on Thursday.

The House Government Operations and Elections Committee defeated amendments designed to give local governments more control over the use of aerial fireworks. Then the Republican-controlled committee sent the bill on a path to return to the House floor, with a stopover on the Rules Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, would allow the sale and use of the full range of consumer fireworks, including aerial rockets and firecrackers. Currently, the state only allows the sale and use of ground-based items such as small fountains, sparklers and snakes.

The states's firefighters, emergency rooms and burn centers have argued strenuously against the bill, saying it will increase the number of fires and the potential for serious burns and other injuries.

Kriesel's bill appeared headed for approval on the House floor when legislators from both parties argued that it should have been heard in the Government Operations committee, to which it was re-referred.

In the committee, representatives of League of Minnesota Cities said the bill will increase fire and police calls and noise complaints. A representative of the Association of Minnesota Counties called for more local control.

Kriesel offered an amendment that allows communities to have some say over where the fireworks are sold in their community. That amendment was accepted. He opposed -- and the committee defeated -- an amendment by Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-St. Louis Park that went further. Winkler's amendment allowed local governments to regulate or even prohibit the sale and use of fireworks in their towns.

Winkler said his amendment is similar to the situation in Wisconsin, where local governments have the final say.

Kriesel said he expects his bill will re-appear on the House floor after the Legislature's Easter-Passover break, which begins Friday and continues all next week.

A companion Senate bill, co-authored by top Senate leaders, has cleared committee hurdles and is awaiting action on the Senate floor. Gov. Mark Dayton has not stated his position on whether he would sign the bill if it passes both houses.

 

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