Bill would take some bang out of Michigan fireworks

News Advocate File Photo

News Advocate File Photo

By JOSH THALL
Capital News Service

LANSING — Unregulated fireworks are keeping some Michigan residents up at night, and a lawmaker is moving to quiet them down.

Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, introduced a bill that would give local governments more control over when fireworks can be used. Howrylak has received complaints from his constituents.

Concerns about fireworks range from waking children to stressing out combat veterans, said Judy Allen, the director of government relations for the Michigan Townships Association.

Howrylak said he was on the Troy City Council in 2011 when the state legalized larger consumer fireworks. He and his fellow board members sent a resolution to their legislators opposing the bill.

“Certainly we had concerns about it,” Howrylak said. “They opened the floodgates for people to actually use this stuff, and it created a lot of chaos.”

The 2011 law trumped several local communities’ fireworks regulations, Allen said.

Howrylak’s bill would allow local governments to regulate when fireworks can be shot off and potentially limit the use of larger fireworks to July 3, 4 and 5. Currently, there are 30 days a year people can light off fireworks — 10 national holidays and one day before and after.

In June 2014, the Manistee City Council adopted an ordinance that prohibits firework use between the hours of 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. There are no restrictions on what days they can be used. On national holidays, and the days before and after them hours are extended, with fireworks prohibited from 1-8 a.m.

The House bill does not deal with regulation of sparklers or other smaller fireworks, Howrylak said.

Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway, said the bill has the right idea, since Independence Day is the main holiday when people don’t mind fireworks.

“Seems like it is a pretty well-intentioned bill, we hear from all sides on these issues,” Lauwers said. “I think it is a good thing that we should, from the state’s standpoint, regulate like other states in terms of fireworks, while allowing the locals to control their policies – seems like the right balance.”

Howrylak said people in their own homes should not have to worry about the unsettling effects of noise coming from fireworks.

“I tell people to stand on their porches in Clawson and tell me how many houses you see. But that’s only the houses you see — it’s probably 10 times as many houses that are actually impacted by fireworks,” Howrylak said. “You stand on a porch in Clawson, you can probably see 25 houses, so you are probably impacting 250 people when you shoot off fireworks.”

Howrylak’s bill also would prohibit people from providing fireworks to minors, adding to the 2011 law’s restriction on minors purchasing fireworks. An adult furnishing fireworks to a minor could face a $500 fine for a first offense.

“If you are going to light off fireworks, there is a safety factor involved,” Howrylak said. “So you need to have the maturity of being a little bit older, so you can make better rational decisions and understand the implications of what you are doing.”

Howrylak said local governments might not tighten their fireworks regulations because they already have a tough enough time trying to enforce the current laws.

“The truth of the matter is that the best compliance with laws, especially laws like this, is voluntary compliance,” Howrylak said. “However, it is a good tool to have the possibility of enforcing it.”

HB 4367 was referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.

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