Two Lewiston legislators co-sponsor fireworks ban

AUGUSTA — State lawmakers may revisit a new law that made several more classes of fireworks legal in 2012. One bill would repeal the law and make most fireworks again illegal to possess.

State House Photo

State Rep. Mike Lajoie, D-Lewiston.

The Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee took a look at several bills Monday, including LD 111, sponsored by Rep. Mike Lajoie, D-Lewiston.

Lajoie's proposals will repeal the law that allows the sale, purchase and use of "consumer fireworks" in Maine. Lajoie is a former fire chief for the city of Lewiston.

Rep. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, is a co-author on the bill. Libby also offered testimony to the committee Monday regarding a neighbor who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder who is bothered by the sound of fireworks at unexpected hours. Libby also spoke about his soon to be 4-year-old son, Jude, who endures non-epileptic seizures that can be triggered by loud noises.

"His seizures are sometimes random, but more often caused by stimuli, particularly loud sudden noises," Libby said.  "As you can imagine, when fireworks are discharged in my neighborhood, Jude has a seizure. Seeing your child having a seizure and knowing there is nothing that can be done is heartbreaking."

Lajoie said he believes Maine went backward on safety when it legalized consumer fireworks.

He cited information provided by the State Fire Marshal's Office showing that in 2012, fireworks were blamed for 20 structure fires, 38 wild fires and 20 injuries.

Lajoie said the previous law may not have been perfect but it had advantages over the current law.

"It did reduce the number of nuisance calls, the number of injuries and the number of fires that were previously experienced," Lajoie said.  

Another bill would prohibit the use of fireworks, including commercial displays, within one mile of a farm with livestock.

Lawmakers heard from Wendy Gray, the owner of riding stables in Bowdoinham, who said her horses are often spooked by the unexpected use of consumer fireworks near her facility, putting her animals and customers at risk.

Representatives from the fireworks industry said they focus on safety education when it comes to consumer fireworks. They also noted that the fledgling industry in Maine was a source of much-needed employment.

Danial Peart, the director of showroom operations for Phantom Fireworks, said it's estimated that as many as 500 people are employed during the busy summer season at shops run by his company and his competitors.

Phantom, based in Ohio, sells fireworks in 13 other states.

Also testifying Monday was Steven Marson, the president of Pyro City Maine and Central Maine Pyrotechnics. Marson spoke several times to the committee. His one business includes stores that sell consumer fireworks in Manchester, Edgecomb, Winslow and Presque Isle.

Marson said his company employs 23 full-time, year-round employees. It pays a starting wage of $9.50 per hour, offers two weeks vacation and pays 50 percent of the premium for a health insurance plan. He said his payroll in 2012 was $600,000. He also noted that he started his businesses with help from a loan backed by the Finance Authority of Maine.

"We paid a lot of sales tax to the state of Maine, we paid a lot of permit fees," Marson said. "We employ a lot of really good people." 

He said the company placed a strong emphasis on public safety and being a good neighbor in the use of fireworks.  "We take a great effort at educating the public, and I don't care if you come into my store 10 times a day, you are going to get the same message."

Republican lawmakers on the committee noted the law that legalized consumer fireworks included language that allowed local municipalities to create their own ordinances to regulate or otherwise ban outright the use of the fireworks locally.

In prepared statement issued Monday, the House Minority Leader, Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said the law passed in 2011 did not "impose consumer fireworks on Maine;  it simply lifted the statewide ban, allowing towns and cities to decide for themselves how to regulate their usage.”

“It’s unfortunate that we’re talking about rolling back a commonsense measure to bring local control and hundreds of jobs to Maine communities,” Fredette said.

Several bills, including Lajoie's, will be back before the committee for work sessions on Monday, March 18. 

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Ken Perry's picture

Typical

And people wonder why Business does not like Maine? The owners of the firework stores have invested a lot of time and money and have put people to work and buildings back on the tax roll, its to bad that it bothers a few people occasionally but they could always move out to the country if they really cared. Typical Liberal Dem. crap, regulate things and tax things to death and go out of their way to close businesses. People are trying hard to destroy Maine "The way life should be" and turn it into a Lil New York.
If someone is so sick due to PTS then they should be under Drs. care, horses for the public to ride should be "bomb proof" and/or rode on private property then far from any noise. Stop taking jobs and rights away from everyone for a few individuals.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Destroy Maine and you think

that the sound stays where these fireworks are set off, horses should be shot if you want to think a horse can be bomb proof. Not a real bomb proof horse in the world. I own horses and they were greatly effected by the sound of the fireworks. You see that issue for the horse is they are minding the business that horses mind. When all of a darn sudden some yahoo thinks like some on here it is fun to set off fireworks. Thankfully my town passed a limited Ordinance so at least myself and other horsemen can know when to not be cleaning out a hoof or giving a riding lesson to a child. I guess you think that sound stays away, and you Ken Perry say that someone with PTSD get it right. Post traumatic stress Disorder from defending your arssss. How many others have come unglued from the sound. And as for the towns like mine, they know even at best what they passed is hardly enforceable out of town budgets. The state of Maine and the DA is not paying to prosecute the same. The towns have to pay, oh yes I know lots of people opened up stores. Based on a ill advised freedom that infringes on others freedom of peace and quiet. I think that in time the state will have no choice but to go back to what worked well. NOT LEAGAL IN MY HANDS WORKED FOR ME. AND ESPECIALLY YOURS ALSO. But like you say much money is in the balance here, and maybe we should see how this year goes and or the state should adopt a few legal days only and not go and keep what is infringing on others safety and right as well. I SAY THIS HOW DARE THE STATE OF MAINE OR ANYONE ENDANGER ONE MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC, A SMALL CHILD ETC. BY ALLOWING YOU OR THE NEXT PERSON LEGALLY SET OFF FIREWORKS AT RANDOM. Ken Perry do you have kids or grandkids what is their life and safety worth to you. We can not put a price on the life of one human being, that safety is the job of our government in all aspects towns or otherwise. Also you state those " its to bad that it bothers a few people occasionally but they could always move out to the country if they really cared." What country are you talking about leave the city or what. I live in the country, I have other friends that live way out in the woods that still own horses that are bouncing off the stall walls when the closest neighbor fires off their new found toys. Someone called them toys, I SAY LETS GIVE IT ONE MORE YEAR AND SEE HOW MANY MORE FIRES, INJURIES ETC. See how you going to like it if you home burns down because someone sets the woods on fire or the neighborhood, much like Auburn's big fire of many years ago that took out many homes and apartment buildings. That is where the name New Auburn came from they had to build the whole darn area. CAN HAPPEN GIVEN A REAL HOT YEAR AND A BUNCH OF FUN LOVING YAHOOS THAT HAVE NO COMMON SENSE. Destroy Maine you say, your a danger to the public, and disrespectful to our troops that now suffer from PTSD. I got it you fire bugs all move to some far far away place. Have your fun in the sun of some tropical island, now that sounds good doesn't it. LOL Time will tell how all this so called freedom works. Lets see how much money a huge fire can cost all of us they say $600,000. in payrole. That would be a drop in the bucket for the damage a forest fire can cost. SAFETY IS WHAT WE THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MAINE WANT. PERIOD.

 's picture

Safety is what the people of

Safety is what the people of Maine want?

Ok, then how about we ban all the dangerous activities, such as driving a motor vehicle, using a chainsaw, lawn mower, oh let's not forget about breathing, or drinking water because those are dangerous as well.

Yes we need the nanny state to come in and protect us from ourselves.

Give me a break

Catherine Pressey's picture

Aho give me a break

the state of Maine did just fine until someone figured out that this just might make someone some money, the states job is to protect all of our rights, your a fool if you think that the noise form fireworks does not infringe on my rights. And safety is not going to happen with those with no common sense. Apparently yours is a wee bit lacking, things such as driving a motor vehicle is regulated one needs a license. You also need auto insurance to register your vehicle. Thus protecting the rest of us from your careless driving. Using a chainsaw you can hurt yourself or another worker, if it is used at work. Thus workers comp. Ins. otherwise if you get hurt by a chainsaw while using it for personal reasons, it is either an accident or your careless, or just a malfunction of that act. Or your common sense is lacking. None the less we public will not get hurt if you make that boo boo. It is your concern. Same for the lawn mower, for personal use, otherwise same Work Comp situation, and once again the chainsaw and lawn mower hopeful is not going to fly threw the air and burn my woods now or my barn. Or the noise they make is in some ways necessary to maintain ones property, or heat ones home with fire wood. Sounds like you need a nanny to keep the rest of us safe from you. Give you a break, yes the world is full of Aho's like you. LOL Have a nice life. Period.

 's picture

Typical non response I

Typical non response I expect as much from someone of your caliber

Catherine Pressey's picture

OH poor you,

LOL ya canna take a wee joke, can ya. lol have a nice life.

Ken Perry's picture

LOL

Well for one thing, I think there is a better chance of someones home burning down by someone smoking, happens all the time. More fires from barbecue then fireworks check some numbers on total losses due to carelessly discarded smoking materials. Then lets not forget those woodstoves.oooh bad bad bad.
so we should stop people from celebrating and having family time because it bothers one or two people. OK
So before we ban fireworks for "fire saftey" we should ban all smoking materials and out door grills, also, hey its the safe thing to do.
And for the PTS that is a fact of life that we must deal with, how ever it is a volunteer military so.... I get the feeling you are the type that would ban everything unless it was something you enjoyed,
I say this to you How dare any person ride a horse on a public way, this is not the 1800's anymore, horses should be banned from public streets, what if one bolts and injures one person, after all that is what you said is it not? So is it worth risking one life because someone wants to "play old west" and ride a horse in the road, I say no. Remember I think it was a year or so ago that several people were killed in Buckfield when they were riding pony carts in the road, very sad. And what about those horse people, storing large amounts of hay in buildings, hay does burn quick and does spontaneously burn, it does happen so we should ban all hay storage, if it would save one fire from happening. Have a nice day.

Catherine Pressey's picture

P.S Ken Perry

I made no mention of a horse bolting regarding this story. One more fact you have screwed up. So you asked is it not what I said. It is not what I said. Period.

Catherine Pressey's picture

Well for one thing

so you think, there is a better chance of someone burning down someone’s home by smoking?? You got facts and figures on that! Since your so informed, tell us your evidence! Than you bring up barbeque you should check your numbers. OK give us the facts!
Then you go back to discarded smoking materials, OH by the way I do not smoke and dislike that too! Are you surprised, and for many years I have used a woodstove. And so far I am good with that, now, yes a few fires start from lots of things. Like someone not using common sense while using that stove. But there you go you can not mandate common sense, fireworks in the hands of those with no common sense is what can start the forest fire, or burn your neighbors hay barn down when your toy goes the wrong way. Yes you just do not get it, it is not one or two people that it bothers, and it is not just your direct neighbor that the sound carries far and afield. So lets just say the people of the state of Maine did not get to vote on this issue, and if persons like you do not treat this issue with more respect for those many that it does bother. Mark my word it will become illegal once again, it can be brought forth by the voters. You say So "we" ban fireworks for safety "we who, is we" The voters did not make fireworks now legal in your hands, our wonderful Governor had a hand in this cookie jar. I vote to ban smoking materials you want to talk about cost and damage, yes smokers many of whom end up on the Maine Care it is a drug, smoking is not good however we turn away and let it kill people. I am the type of person that would ban anything that inhibits my personal right to breath fresh air and have peace and quiet. Now I can accept certain days for the use of fireworks, as my town now has. I will live with it. As a trade off! I have no problem if you want to smoke and kill yourself. Yes that is your freedom just do not blow the smoke at me or force me to breath it. However your fireworks is being forced on all of us that like our quiet Maine life style. Your the one that said we are destroying Maine I beg to differ with you on that! Now your back on outdoor grills, that has little to do with the general publics safety here. If your out door grill starts a fire at your place. It did not come shooting across the field and start our house on fire, this is not the publics safety that is a personal safety. Oh I hate the noise that Harley's make too! Though I have my motorcycle license. But that will give you something else to bit___ about. I am not about banning your rights to do. Just keep the noise on your piece of land. But until you or your bunch figure out how to invent something that works, and get some common sense and do not set fireworks off at all hours of the day and night. For no good reason at all, hurt yourself all you want. As long as the public is not going to be hurt by it. Figure out how to keep we the public from 1. being effected bothered, disturbed. The voters did not get the right to vote on this. Like they do in many cases! And still can! Here again you come back and attack the man, or people with PTSD you say it is a voluntary military, and aren't you lucky your arasss did not have to go. Like get drafted as in my day and Nam you less that kind troubled person. So it is a fact the poor veteran has to live with, on the home front he now has to live with the memory of what horror his lived through. Each time your kind set off that fireworks, he relives it. Protecting our country to give your arassses the right to set of fireworks. The darn fireworks are a symbol of war, it is not a celebration for a darn party just for the heck of it. OH but of course you have your rights.
Now we come to the horse issue, funny now no where is the story about fireworks today. This current story did anyone say any thing about riding a horse on the public way. And I am not going to defend something that I need not. Now you wish to start to ban those things that you do not like. So who is calling the kettle black here. I did not state that I did not want you or your bunch to be able to shoot off fireworks in my comment. I said lets see how this year goes and see what happens. However because of people like you, I think they need to regulate them much like my town has done to protect the public and the peace and quiet way of we Mainers. Let me make my self clear here. I remember the horror of the news about the man driving his ponies along the road on Rt. 117 out of Buckfield towards Rt. 4. he had a couple of little girls with him. When someone in a van was driving to fast coming around a corner, and it was not pony carts. was one cart with two ponies. Get your facts clear and it was more than a year ago I assure you. One child was killed if I remember right. Awful but it was the drivers right to speed along and blame it on the sun or something like you just did. Oh, it was the older gentlemen driving his ponies down the public road minding his own business. And you see he was a member of the public, like I am and I do ride the roads and will continue to ride the roads, though I wish more trails were available. Lots of the trails have been shut off due to people riding motorized vehicles, like trail bikes four wheelers and such. That had no common sense and the land owners had no choice to shut lots of trails off. Aren't you happy about that too! And as far as hay in buildings that once again is not a public concern that is the farmer conducting his life’s work storing hay for feed, so he can use it or sell it to us horsemen. And as far as horses on the Public road a horse is a vehicle in the definition of the state of Maine. And is grandfathered on all free roads. Not pay roads. And all this crap about the money fireworks and jobs that the same has brought the state. Horses and stable like the lady Wendy in the article generate large monies into the state coffers by way of grain, horse trailers purchase taxes on riding areas, so on and so forth, that would make your great fireworks income look minute. Huge money is spent here in the horse world and do not forget it. You have a smarter day!

Robert McQueeney's picture

You had to know this was going to happen

I've seen, or rather heard people using fireworks at 2 AM and later. I think we all have. And the folks using them say, hey, it's legal to shoot them off. Showing absolutely no consideration for others is what causes restrictions to be put in place. And as this article shows, some will attempt to legislate an outright ban.

Fireworks are fun, used with any consideration and some prudence, they can be great fun and no one is adversely affected. Unfortunately, consideration seems to be lacking.

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

comon Libby

What lies our politicians use to force all of us to comply with thier lifestyle! Libby you forgot to mention that it is illegal to shoot off fireworks in your neigborhood and this bill would not really make it any more dangerous to you now or if the bill is passed. Adults should be allowed to use fireworks responsibly, however laws do need to be passed to bring people who misuse them to justice with strict sentencing guidelines. how many REAL INJURIES CAUSED DIRECTLY by these fireworks have been reported since it has been allowed under current law each city can dictate the useage of them what these two want to do is dictate through fear and intimidation the laws of the entire state, there are many places where it has been customary to fire off these things over ponds and lakes during the 4th eventhough it was illegal now we can enjoy these without the threat of being arrested.

 's picture

More proof that Maine is one

More proof that Maine is one of the most anti-business states in the country.

Mike Lajoie is a joke and it's quite evident he and all the other co-sponsors have little concern for Maine's economy.

Thankfully, even if Gov Lepage wasn't vetoing all bills at the moment this one still wouldn't see the light of day and it doesn't appear that there will be a 2/3rds majority to override it.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Well said, Roger. You are

Well said, Roger. You are absolutely correct when you mention how much time and money has been invested in the fireworks business , only to have lackeys in Augusta that have no grasp on that aspect of the business propose changes to the law that will put these companies out of business and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments in real estate and so on. Rep. Lajoie needs a Business 101 course on how the private sector works. Hopefully, smarter heads will prevail.

ROGER COUTURIER's picture

Get it right the first time!

I do not care either way but why not get it right the first time around. Years ago the legislator passed a helmet law just to repeal it a few years later. Then they vote to legalize fireworks just to now consider repealing it. When fireworks were legalized, a number of individuals invested a considerable of time and money to get into retail fireworks sales and now the legislature is considering saying - too bad you are out of business. There are much more serious problems at the state level, why not spend the time trying to solve the state's financial crisis and get with the program. I guess it really doesn't matter since the governor isn't about to sign any bill until they take care of the hospital debt. Oh yes, fireworks are much more important. How about addressing the use of cell phones while driving since the use is responsible for killing innocent children and adults on an annual basis. But that would affect the legislators more than anyone else so don't even let it get out of committee. Focus on fireworks instead!

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