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Michigan adopts new fireworks legislation

By: Brendan Losinski, Tiffany Esshaki, Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published January 16, 2019

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LANSING — On Dec. 29, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder approved a package of bills aimed at giving more local communities more control to regulate the use and sale of fireworks. The package included House Bill 5940, which was written by state Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville.

Along with HB 5940, the package included HB 5939 and HB 5941. The three-bill package makes what Chirkun called “much-needed changes” to Michigan’s Fireworks Safety Act.

“This law will allow the communities of Warren, Roseville and other local units of government across the state to better regulate fireworks by limiting the dates and times they can be used, and increases the penalty for those who violate a local ordinance,” Chirkun said in a press release. “These bills make some much-needed changes in an effort to address some of the concerns I have heard from my constituents during my time in the House. This law provides for increased local control, better awareness of what the law is and fair limitations on the use and sale of fireworks.”

Under the bill package, local officials could restrict the use of consumer-grade fireworks from the currently allowed 30 days a year to about 12 days a year, although several other changes to fireworks-related laws were also included.

House Bill 5939 enacted a variety of changes to Michigan’s fireworks laws. The changes include increasing the fees an applicant would have to pay to obtain a certificate to sell consumer fireworks; those selling consumer fireworks without a certificate would be liable for a civil fine instead of a misdemeanor; requiring a certificate applicant to submit a bond to secure the collection of estimated sales tax and fireworks safety fees; and giving the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs more autonomy when processing certificate applications and violations.

Under House Bill 5939, retailers also are required to provide purchasers a notice of when fireworks may be used.

House Bill 5940 allows a municipality with a population of more than 100,000, or any local government in a county with a population of more than 750,000, to regulate the number of temporary structures from which fireworks are sold and the distance between them in that community.

House Bill 5941 grants more authority to local fire departments to enforce no-burning restrictions in regard to environmental concerns and gives the governor, the Department of Natural Resources or the state fire marshal the power to enforce statewide no-burning restrictions. It also said local departments must notify residents within 24 hours if such bans have been lifted.

Many local municipalities will be discussing what these changes could mean for their communities.

Farmington Hills resident Tanya Nordhaus said that she thinks the legislation is positive.

“I see a need for tighter fireworks regulations in Farmington Hills,” she said in an email. “There is no reason people need to shoot off fireworks on any other national holiday beyond the Fourth of July and New Year’s.”

The 11-year resident added that fireworks “freak out” pets and make it difficult for children to sleep.

“About a month ago, someone thought they heard gunshots. It ended up just being fireworks being set off on a non-national holiday,” she said.

Farmington resident Penny Oglesby said that while she understands that people will celebrate, she is concerned about the time they choose to do so.

“Before midnight, celebrating, I think, is OK. After midnight … I don’t think they (residents) want to be bothered by people setting them off at 1 o’clock in the morning,” she said, adding that in her downtown Farmington neighborhood, she has never had a problem with fireworks. “If you live in a neighborhood where there is children, it is not fair to children or people who work early, or people who go to bed early.”

Oglesby added that she feels that enforcement of fireworks usage and sales is a good thing.

Lt. Dustin Lockard, of the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department, said his staff is currently researching what’s allowable under the new law so a recommendation can be made to the City Commission.

The Birmingham Police Department is doing the same, according to Chief Mark Clemence.

“While fireworks use has not been a problem in Birmingham, the Birmingham Police Department will be working with the City Attorney’s Office to adjust our ordinance to state law, while taking steps to ensure the public’s continued safety when fireworks are used most,” he said via email.

Representatives from the Bloomfield Township Police Department and the Franklin-Bingham Farms Police Department could not be reached for comment on the new legislation before press time.