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Michigan fireworks law still ignites debate



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June 25, 2014 - Atlas Twp.- In 2011, the local fireworks issue became louder after state lawmakers opened up sales and usage in Michigan—igniting a rush to buy the devices and creating a new retail opportunity for some.

However, three years later, municipalities are still trying to adjust to the new climate.

"Fireworks can be a real safety issue," said Shirley Kautman-Jones, township supervisor. "It's very easy to start fires and fireworks are very intrusive to neighbors and animals. It might seem like a good time to light them off in the middle of the night but some people have to get up and go to work in the morning."

In September 2013 the township board voted 5-0 to OK an ordinance which regulates the usage of consumer fireworks between the overnight hours of 1-8 a.m. to the following holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, as well as the day before and the day after each of these holidays. The township will also include the weekend before Independence Day.

The decision comes after Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed legislation in June 2013 that allows any city, township or village to prohibit the use of fireworks between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. on the national holidays and one day on either side.

"I think fireworks should be done by a professional—otherwise there is no value," she said. "I've been witness to personal injuries."

The lawmakers' intent was to snag a few tax dollars which had been going to border states who sold such fireworks. The legislation expanded the types of fireworks that could be ignited legally in the state including bottle rockets, aerial cakes, Roman candles, and firecrackers. All are sold legally after lawmakers and Snyder erased the ban.

"Law enforcement will be out there and enforce the law with regard to fireworks," she added.

Violation is a misdemeanor and punished by a $500 fine plus the costs of prosecution and/or 90 days in jail. If the police officer determined that a violation of the ordinance occurred the officer may seize control of the fireworks as evidence of the violation.

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