Fireworks bill making early noise at state Capitol

A Minnesota House panel has advanced legislation to expand the legal use of fireworks in the state.

On a divided voice vote, members of the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance approved a bill Thursday that would add more powerful “aerial and audible devices” to the list of allowable fireworks. The list is currently limited to novelty devices.

Rep. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, said his bill allows local government officials to set their own rules for fireworks, if they choose.

“Any jurisdiction, whether it be city, township, county, they have the ability to restrict sale or use,” Rarick said.

Fire chiefs and other public safety officials oppose the bill.

Burnsville Fire Chief B.J. Jungmann warned that an expansion of fireworks would undermine fire prevention efforts.

“In our profession, the best emergency is one that never occurs,” Jungmann said. “Based on other states’ experiences and even our own statistics on the limited expansion of fireworks, we believe this expansion legislation will result in more injures and will cause more fires and damage to our state.”

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a similar fireworks expansion measure in 2012.