County resolution urges repeal of state law allowing fireworks sale, use

A Wayne County Commission resolution calling for the repeal of the state law that allows the widespread sale and use of commercial grade fireworks, was approved by the full commission on July 21.

The resolution urges support for bills to repeal the fireworks laws that have been introduced in the Legislature by state Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) and state Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights).

Copies of the resolution will be sent to state representatives and senators as well as to the governor.

Commissioners Joseph Palamara (D-Grosse Ile) introduced the resolution along with Chairman Gary Woronchak (D-Dearborn), whose district includes Allen Park.

Palamara said the complaints from residents in his district have increased each year since the state eased restrictions on fireworks, starting in 2012.

“This is a case where Lansing is just not listening to the people who are most affected by changes in the law,” Palamara said. “I don’t think anyone realized when they made the change just how much it would affect neighborhoods, and the amount of pushback it would get from residents.”

“I hear from more and more residents every year that they don’t want these fireworks in their neighborhoods, set off on days and at times that aren’t allowed under the law,” Woronchak said, “and it’s just not possible for local police to keep it contained. This year in particular, with unusually dry conditions, common sense says that fireworks were even more dangerous than usual. But that didn’t cut back on the use.”

Added Palamara: “The new practice of allowing purchase and use of fireworks is just in its fourth year, so it’s still early enough to put the genie back into the bottle and repeal the law.”

The Legislature approved the Fireworks Safety Act in 2011, which legalized the sale, distribution and use of a wide variety of commercial grade aerial fireworks that were previously prohibited in Michigan. It was approved by wide margins in both the House and Senate, with the argument that it would bring tax revenue into Michigan, since people were buying the fireworks anyway in other states where they were legal.

Firework retailers pay permit fees and a “fireworks safety fee” is charged along with sales tax. But, the commission’s resolution states that any economic benefit to the state “is more than negated by the cost of local communities’ attempts to enforce the law.”

“The only solution is a complete repeal of the legalization of these fireworks,” Woronchak said. “Certainly, there would still be people who would drive to other states to buy fireworks, and there would still be illegal discharging of fireworks in neighborhoods. But such activities would be far less than they are now, when you can buy fireworks in tents set up along the roadway on your way home from work.”

During the recent Fourth of July holiday weekend, there were published reports of at least six people in Wayne County transported to area hospitals by ambulance, including a critically injured 5-year-old taken to Beaumont-Trenton. Also, a resident of Sumpter Township was hit by fireworks, and one death was reported in western Michigan as a result of an explosion.