By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING (AP) – A year-and-a-half after legalizing louder, more powerful fireworks in Michigan, lawmakers are giving local governments the power to restrict their use around holidays after a slew of complaints were lodged by the public.
A 2011 law lets cities, townships and villages pass their own restrictions concerning the ignition, discharge and use of commercial-grade fireworks. But it prohibits the ordinances from applying on or near a national holiday.
Legislation overwhelmingly approved Wednesday by the House and Senate would let local governments prohibit the fireworks from midnight to 8 a.m. on the day of, day before and day after a national holiday. Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign it.
A local government could impose a maximum fine of $500 for each violation.
The new law has meant no more clandestine trips to Ohio and Indiana for fiery summer fixings such as bottle rockets, aerial cakes and Roman candles. Before, Michigan residents were returning home with illegal fireworks but enforcement was not strict.
Legislators figured that since the fireworks wind up in Michigan anyway, they might as well be legalized so the state can get a piece of the action through jobs, taxes and fees. But once warm weather arrived in 2012 and people began shooting off more powerful fireworks, Snyder and legislators began hearing from citizens and local officials upset about noise and safety concerns.
“Obviously, fireworks going off at 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. in the morning was one of the most controversial issues. So I think we’ve dealt with that fairly and equitably,” said the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Harold Haugh of Roseville. He said most municipalities do not realize they already can regulate fireworks 330 days of the year.
The legislation would affect local governments differently depending on their population.
If a municipality has at least 50,000 residents or is located in an urban county, it could regulate fireworks between midnight and 8 a.m. or between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day. If a municipality has fewer than 50,000 people or is in a rural county, it could regulate fireworks between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m.
The bill also would change how fees collected from stores and buyers are spent and let the state delegate inspection duties to local governments. It would continue making businesses pay for the right to sell fireworks.
Annual certificate fees due to the state cost $1,000 for a retail location in a permanent building or $600 in a non-permanent location.
Before voting, senators rejected two amendments – one that would have given local governments the ability to restrict fireworks at any time and another that would have specifically allowed Mackinac Island to ban fireworks any time because they scare horses. The island does not allow cars.
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