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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brian Johnson (R)

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Rep. Brian Johnson: Fireworks Should Be Allowed in Minnesota to Celebrate Independence Day

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Every Fourth of July, we celebrate America: the land of the free and the home of the brave. Unfortunately in Minnesota, we aren't fully the land of the free thanks to our fireworks ban—something that I am working on changing at the legislature.

Earlier this month, the House passed the Fireworks Freedom Act on a bipartisan vote which would amend state law to allow aerial and audible device fireworks to be sold in Minnesota. This change would be consistent with what our neighbors Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota sell in their states—many times to Minnesotans who are crossing the border to purchase fireworks and bring them back across state lines to use illegally.

The prohibition on fireworks isn't working in Minnesota and what's more, it's costing our state money. It's estimated that Minnesota loses roughly $5 million a year in sales tax revenue when people buy fireworks in a neighboring state. Plus, every summer you inevitably hear bottle rockets being launched and families blowing up fireworks to commemorate our country's independence. In fact, it may very well be that you are one of the thousands of Minnesotans breaking the law every year by setting off fireworks during your celebration. The ban isn't effective and is a waste of time and resources for local law enforcement.

A similar legalization bill passed a few years ago and was vetoed by Governor Dayton. To address some of the governor's concerns, as well as the concerns of other people surrounding the legalization of fireworks, the Fireworks Freedom Act includes a number of key provisions. For instance, for people worried that full legalization would lead to year round noise complaints, the legislation limits the selling of fireworks each year from June 1 to July 10 when demand is highest around Independence Day. Furthermore, only adults would be allowed to legally purchase fireworks.

Additionally, local control is a key component addressed in the Fireworks Freedom Act this time around. If a local government sees a strong local opposition to fireworks in their community, they can prohibit aerial audible and display fireworks from being sold. They could also charge a limited annual license fee to stores who want to sell them to bring in additional revenue.

I am hopeful that by addressing these key concerns surrounding the Fireworks Freedom Act, we can get this bipartisan initiative signed into law this year and end the ineffective prohibition on firework sales.

It's time to make Minnesota a place where people can exercise their freedoms. Let's legalize firework sales in our state so people can celebrate our independence in a fun, free and quintessentially American way.