In lieu of recent events, I can confess to my sole indiscretion. As a history buff and a slight pyromaniac, Independence Day is my favorite holiday, and I feel that a dinky sparkler does not properly celebrate our Founding Fathers. Therefore, every summer my friends and I drive to Ohio and spend our hard-earned money on fireworks (the good ones) that haven’t been legal for sale in Michigan — until now.
This summer we, and many other Michiganders, saved a bit on gas money.
On Jan. 1, Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, legalizing the sale and use of consumer fireworks for individuals aged 18 and older. The law expands the selection of fireworks available for purchase to include bottle rockets, sky lanterns, firecrackers and Roman candles. Communities may still choose to limit or ban the use of some, or all, fireworks.
Prior to the act, only low impact, ground-based fireworks, including sparklers, snakes, smoke devices and poppers were legal. It was common for many residents to cross state borders to purchase more powerful fireworks in Ohio or Indiana that were, until recently, illegal in Michigan.
Although it is too early to know exact statistics, the change will ultimately result in increased revenue for the state, thanks to taxes.
Michigan stands to gain both tax revenue and jobs from the change in legislation instead of losing out as residents cross state borders with their money.
In an interview with The Observer and Eccentric published on June 21, state Rep. Harold Haugh, D-Roseville, estimated that the wider variety of fireworks available would bring in between $8 and $10 million annually.
The money will come from both licensing fees paid by retailers and taxes paid by consumers. A temporary retail location, like the stands set up in parking lots, is charged $600 to operate, and a permanent location is charged $1,000. In addition to the regular 6 percent sales tax, customers will pay a 6 percent safety fee that will be used for firefighter training.
The majority of opposition comes from individuals concerned about the possibility of increased firework-related injuries now that more powerful devices are available to the public. However, the potential revenue outweighs the potential risks, according to Haugh.
As long as there have been fireworks, there have been firework-related injuries. The Fireworks Safety Act should not serve as a scapegoat for reckless behavior that preceded it. If anything, the law has brought safety concerns to the forefront, as users may be more cautious now than when the device in question was merely a sparkler.
I do not scoff at safety. As I mentioned before, I follow the directions. I do, however, scoff at a reckless lack of common sense. In this case, common sense applies to both profit and safety. It would be foolish for the state to pass up revenue. In my experience, when used carefully by adults, fireworks are not a threat.
They are, instead, an integral part of summer, and it is wise for Michigan to broaden its regulations and profit from something we have already been doing for years.
This is a change that I believe our Founding Fathers would applaud. Every fireworks purchase will allow Michiganders to express our freedoms, contribute to our economy, and enjoy an explosive tradition.