The latest version of a bill to expand Minnesota’s list of legal fireworks has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
Members of the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance committee advanced the measure Tuesday on a divided voice vote. The House passed a similar fireworks bill last session, but the Senate never took action.
The bill would authorize the sale of “aerial and audible devices,” including bottle rockets, roman candles and firecrackers. Current state law allows only novelty devices.
Rep. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, said his 2017 bill would allow for year-round sales.
“If you’re going to sell for 60 days or less, you would be allowed to sell in a tent,” Rarick said. “That is going to allow our nonprofit organizations and small organizations to be able to sell. If you’re going to sell for more than 60 days, you would then be required to go into a permanent structure that meets fire code.”
Rarick said Minnesotans are already using similar fireworks that they purchase in neighboring states. He said he wants that money to remain in Minnesota.
Rarick’s bill also designates a portion of fireworks sales tax revenue to programs that promote fire safety and benefit local fire departments.
Still, fire chiefs and the state fire marshal testified against the bill.
Burnsville Fire Chief B.J. Jungman told lawmakers that the legalization of additional fireworks would cause public safety problems.
“There’s no question that they cause injury and fire, and should this legislation pass, we can expect an increase in both,” Jungman said.
The bill goes next to the House Government Operations and Elections Policy committee.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has opposed previous fireworks bills. He vetoed one in 2012.