There’s no going back on fireworks law
We’re not sure anyone knew just what we were getting into when the Legislature voted in 2011 to liberalize the state’s fireworks laws. But when consumer fireworks that fly and explode were legalized, and pyrotechnics lovers no longer had to drive to Indiana to indulge their passion, we all heard the result. Summer nights in many neighborhoods started sounding like artillery practice, with a looping soundscape of pops, thuds and booms. A follow-up law allowing local governments to limit fireworks use to certain days and times helped limit the problem a bit, but hardly solved it.
There are a lot of people around the state who would now like to go back to the old fireworks law, where sparklers were about the only thing permitted. One online petition calling for repeal of the 2011 law has some 9,000 signatures, while 75 percent of respondents to a Sentinel online poll last week said they thought that home fireworks legalization was a bad decision.
As much as we’d like to be able to sleep with the windows open around the Fourth of July, we can’t put the genie back in the bottle, or the powder back in the tube. Fireworks have become a big business in Michigan, and that means substantial state revenue (a projected $3.8 million in taxes and fees this year according to one report), always something difficult for legislators to pass up. Further, a lot of local folks have acquired a taste for home pyrotechnics, and if they can’t buy them here they’ll drive to Indiana to get them rather than do without. Finally, there’s the question of enforcement. One reason we reluctantly supported the 2011 bill was that the laws on the books before then weren’t being – and really couldn’t be – actively enforced.
So if we’re going to restore a little calm to our summer nights, we’re going to have to rely primarily on neighborly relations – people getting out and talking to the folks down the street rather than calling the cops first. Some more consistent enforcement from police would help, but ultimately the solution will be up to us, not the Legislature.
– The Holland Sentinel