Small businesses blast Michigan fireworks proposal

A bipartisan push to overhaul Michigan’s 2012 fireworks law is facing last-minute opposition from a coalition of small business owners who argue it could kill their roadside stands, tents and other temporary stores while benefiting large retailers.

House-approved legislation awaiting likely action this week in the Senate “seeks to regulate the death and demise of small businesses, plain and simple,” said Bob Horvath of Yellow Box Fireworks, which operates temporary summer stores out of retrofitted shipping containers.

The proposal would give local governments greater authority to limit late-night fireworks use, guaranteeing their legal use over 12 days each year — mostly around the Fourth of July and other holidays — instead of 30 days under current law.

Sponsoring Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, said the legislation would bring “rationality” to the 2012 fireworks law by curbing late-night explosions and empowering local governments to adopt unique regulations.

But Horvath called the changes a “Trojan horse” for a larger reform that could damage companies like his.

The legislation would require owners of temporary structures — but not permanent stores — to pay a $5,000 bond each year as collateral for future sales tax collections and fireworks safety fees. The proposal also would raise fees from $1,000 to $1,250 for permanent stores and from $600 to $1,000 for temporary stores.

“If the bond passes, that’s going to hurt me because I don’t have $5,000 to put up,” said Paul D’Luge, a special education teacher and coach in Detroit’s public schools who runs two fireworks tents in the city each summer to supplement his income.

Read more of this Detroit News article by Jonathan Oosting by clicking here.