KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of Democratic state senators are working to tighten the restrictions in Michigan law on when people can set off commercial-grade fireworks.
Senate Bill 0017 was introduced last month by state Sen. Paul Wojno, D-Warren, and referred to the Committee on Local Government. It would amend 2011’s Public Act 256 — the “Michigan Fireworks Safety Act.” Aside from cleaning up some language, the bill would cut back the curfew on certain days and cut down the number of days when fireworks can be legally discharged.
Currently, fireworks are allowed from 11 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and from 11 a.m. on New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day. They are also allowed the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day, from June 29 through July 3, on July 5 if it lands on a Friday or Saturday, and the Saturday and Sunday before Labor Day.
The new bill would trim the curfew to 11 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day and would ban fireworks on June 29 through July 2.
State Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, is one of the co-sponsors of the bill. McCann supported the original bill to expand fireworks usage and voted to approve that legislation back in 2011 as a member of the state House. But he says if he could do it all over again, he would switch his vote.
“Part of the piece was that the sales taxes from the receipts were to be dedicated to a fund to help out firefighters. So the connection was kind of made between, ‘OK, we’re going to allow more of this activity, but it’s going to support firefighters in the process.’ That was, I think, at the time a compelling reason,” McCann told News 8. “I felt like at the time the deal had been negotiated fairly well. You might find it rare in a politician to say that they made a mistake, but in hindsight, this is one of those things I wouldn’t have voted for if I had the chance to do it again.”
He said that in the years since the public act went into effect, McCann has received a lot of feedback from constituents who have problems with fireworks.
“Pet owners, people with young kids, veterans with (post-traumatic stress disorder), all kinds of folks would get in touch with me and let me know that they didn’t think that that was a good idea,” McCann said. “And really, upon reflection, I’ve come to agree with that sentiment. So I’m happy with a bill that’s going to tighten it up.”
The bill would also double the penalties for violators, with fines ranging up to $1,000 for people caught improperly discharging fireworks and up to $5,000 for people who sell fireworks to minors.
McCann hopes the higher fines will discourage more people from violating the law and help ease the stress on local first responders.
“I know enforcement is difficult. Our police and fire folks are stretched thin and obviously hospitals see more injuries coming in on the holidays, as well,” McCann said. “I think this is a good idea (that could) help support enforcement.”
McCann believes there can be a middle ground that works for everyone.
“I don’t foresee it going away entirely, but if we can make it tighter, less often, I think that’s going to be better for the community,” he said. “This bill is at the starting point. We look forward to hearing from folks’ ideas and perspectives on where it goes from here.”