Yanez ignites new proposal against consumer fireworks

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 21, 2015

STERLING HEIGHTS — As it gets closer to the Fourth of July, a local state representative has drafted proposed legislation to curtail the use of consumer fireworks in Michigan.

State Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights, said in June that he wants to repeal Michigan’s relaxed fireworks laws. His proposal consists of two bills: One repeals changes made by the Michigan Legislature in 2011, and the other bill cleans up technical language.

Under current state law, Michigan allows people to use consumer-grade fireworks, a category of explosives that includes bottle rockets and Roman candles. Low-impact or novelty fireworks, like sparklers and smoke balls, were allowed already.

Michigan municipalities cannot prevent residents from launching consumer fireworks during set hours on 10 national holidays, as well as the day before and the day after those holidays.

Yanez said his two bills, HB 4725 and 4726, intend to return Michigan’s law to the former status quo. According to a press release from his office, that means “certain toy pistols, paper caps, sparklers and toy snakes, as well as other small products,” would remain legal.

But the proposal would ban minors from securing a fireworks permit, and communities’ permit issuance powers would mainly extend to agriculture, outdoor pest control and major public displays.       

“Every year since we changed the fireworks law, we’ve been inundated with complaints about noise, about property damage,” Yanez said. “Frankly, this has been an experiment that I believe has failed. It’s bothersome, it’s dangerous, and I think it’s time we go back to square one … and then we’ll go from there.”

Yanez said his opposition to current fireworks laws stems from his past experience as a firefighter and from constituents’ complaints. He also said some veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder suffer due to sudden loud noises caused by consumer fireworks.

Yanez said he has been able to get a number of co-sponsors, but he said he expects opposition from “people who represent the fireworks lobby.”

Julie L. Heckman, executive director for the American Pyrotechnics Association, said the relaxation of fireworks laws in Michigan has been very good from an industry perspective.

“Michigan has benefited from the economic standpoint because of the purchase of fireworks within the state rather than the general public crossing the state borders and making their fireworks purchases elsewhere,” she said.

Learn more about state Rep. Henry Yanez by visiting www.025.housedems.com or by calling (517) 373-2275.

Find out more about the American Pyrotechnics Association by visiting www.americanpyro.com.