Fireworks: ‘You just gotta ignite, the light’

Minnesota Rep. John Kriesel just wants to have a good time.

“Do you feel we are not as fun as other states?” the Cottage Grove Republican asked fellow representatives Tuesday before they delayed a vote allowing more powerful fireworks.

Then, quoting from a Katy Perry song, he added: “You just gotta ignite, the light, and let it shine.”

A dozen other lawmakers also quoted from Perry’s “Firework” as a gift to Kriesel, who is retiring from the Legislature.

Kriesel said the bill needs to be considered by another committee, but will return to the full House. “For sure, it’s not dead.”

While much of the debate was light hearted, the fireworks expansion proposal came along with concern from some lawmakers that more powerful fireworks could lead to more injuries.

“This bill does not make cherry bombs or M-80s legal,” Kriesel said, but it would allow for bottle rockets and other types of fireworks now banned.

Kriesel said his bill would keep money in Minnesota.

“Hundreds of Minnesotans cross the border into Wisconsin or the Dakotas” to buy fireworks, he said.

Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, warned of the danger of fireworks injuries.

“It’s a lot of fun until somebody loses an eye, a limb,” she said.

Turning to Kriesel, who lost both legs during the Iraq war, she added: “It one thing to put yourself in harm’s way for your country, it is quite another thing for an hour’s worth of fun.”

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, wanted to allow only American-made fireworks to be sold in Minnesota. She said she was following Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, who proudly talks about his American-made underwear and often sponsors bills requiring American-made purchases.

“I will not let you steal the fourth of July from our citizens,” Rukavina told Kahn before voting for her amendment, which failed 99-30.

Rukavina’s American-made passion is hard to follow, he said. “I’m running out of underwear because I can’t find them made in the U.S.A. very easily.”

A similar fireworks bill awaits a Senate vote.

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