Legislative Notebook: Senate Approves Bigger Fireworks

By Danielle Nordine and Don Davis

Minnesota skies could soon be lighting up on more than the Fourth of July.

State senators Tuesday approved a bill expanding legal fireworks 41-22. Some senators made fireworks sounds during the vote.

Democrat Sens. Dave Tomassoni of Chisholm and Keith Langseth of Glyndon, among others, argued Minnesotans already are buying fireworks in neighboring states. Tomassoni said expanding availability in Minnesota would bring money to the state through taxes and fees.

Those opposed to the proposal voiced concerns about the dangers of fireworks and the issues that could be created in cities, where homes are close together.

“There’s a cost-benefit issue here,” Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, said. He urged members to weigh the additional revenue against possible fires, injuries and other problems.

“There’s a way to do everything safely,” bill sponsor Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, said.

A companion bill by Republican John Kriesel of Cottage Grove likely will be heard by a committee Thursday and could be before the full House for a vote this week.

End is near

The first real sign that the 2012 Minnesota legislative is wrapping up came Tuesday when Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders met behind closed doors.

A Dayton spokesman reported there was little, if any, progress in the talks, designed to show the road to ending the session. Legislative leaders say they want to adjourn for the year in less than two weeks.

Discussions included taxes and public works bills. There was no talk about the stumbling Vikings stadium, the spokesman said.

Some lawmakers have talked about leaving even before leaders want, but Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, said work remains and he thinks more time is needed.

Still, he said, legislators should adjourn as soon as they can to save money. “You have to remember it is $10,000 a day.”

Are horses livestock?

The House voted 83-47 Tuesday to define horses as livestock.

Disagreement has delayed the bill, Rep. Bruce Anderson said, but most issues had been worked out.

“There’s peace in the valley,” he said.

The bill would include horse breeding, training and boarding farms as agricultural operations

Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said the proposal is an “annual bill” that keeps coming up.

“It generally exists to give folks that have horses a property tax break,” she said.