Fireworks bill headed to House floor

Legislation expanding the state’s list of legal fireworks to include “aerial and audible devices” is heading to a vote in the Minnesota House after clearing its final committee hurdle.

Members of the House Government Operations and Elections Policy committee approved the measure Friday on a narrow 9-8 vote. It would allow the sale and use of such products as firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles. Current state law allows only novelty devices.

The bill no longer captures sales tax revenue to fund fire safety and equipment programs. Rep. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, said that section will now move as a separate bill through the tax committee.

Rarick said local officials would have the final say on what kind of fireworks are available in their communities.

“Of the people that contact me that are opposed to this, the main reason they give is ‘this just does not in my area,’” Rarick said. “We address that in the bill by allowing the local municipalities, whether it be cities, townships or even counties, to ban use and or sales within their jurisdictions.”

The state fire marshal and several firefighting organizations oppose the bill, as does DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.

Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, warned about the potential harm of legalizing more fireworks. Halverson said increased injuries will drive up health care costs.

“To put more strain on that system seems irresponsible in the name of fun,” Halverson said.