In the near future, Minnesotans might be able to swing over to their local liquor store on a Sunday, buy some booze, then head home and shoot off bottle rockets.
And all without breaking the law.
OK, so that's not going to be the case tomorrow or anything. We're getting closer to that becoming a reality however, after a House committee gave the thumbs up to a bill Tuesday that would legalize more fireworks.
Right now in Minnesota, explosive and in-the-air fireworks are prohibited.
This bill is from Rep. Jason Rarick (a Republican from Pine City), Session Daily explains, and would make "aerial and audible devices" – so bottle rockets and Roman candles, for example – legal to purchase. They'd be available to purchase year-round in permanent spaces that meet certain safety requirements, or for 60 days in temporary tents.
You could use the fireworks any time, though cities could choose to restrict use or sales.
Rarick tried to jam a similar bill through last year, and it actually passed the full House. But it fizzled out in the Senate, never even getting a vote.
And while this bill passed the Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee Tuesday, it was handed over to the Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee – not moved up to the full House for a vote there.
The Senate has a version and it was referred to committee, but it hasn't gone anywhere.
People in favor, including Rarick, have said Minnesota is losing big money to neighboring states, since Minnesotans just go there to buy fireworks. Last year Rarick pegged the figure at about $5 million in sales tax revenue we're missing out on. This new bill would also create a fund with taxes collected on fireworks sales – half would go to the general fund, and half would go to support local fire departments.
But there are safety worries. The state's Fire Marshal said personal injuries and property damage could go up, and provided a list of groups (including the Mayo Clinic) that opposed the looser regulations, Session Daily said.