A bill to expand the types of fireworks that can be sold and used in Minnesota is now sitting on Gov. Mark Dayton's desk -- but will he sign it? That may depend on a meeting with the authors of the plan.
Dayton is expected to meet with the authors of the bills that have already passed both the state House of Representatives and the Senate, but he's been getting an earful from people on both sides of the issue already.
It's no secret that man Minnesotans -- like Phil Hamerly, who grew up in Stillwater -- cross the border to buy fireworks for the Fourth of July.
"Whenever my grandma would come up from Arkansas, she'd bring me over here against my parents' wishes and let me get whatever I want," he admitted.
If Dayton signs the firework bill, however, residents with a burning desire for oohs and aahs may be able to get shell-shocked without leaving their home state -- and that's something lawmakers who represent border areas are keenly aware of.
"I would be shopping in Minnesota now if it was legal," Hamerly said.
Right now, only fireworks like snakes, sparklers and grounded fountains that don't explode can be sold within Minnesota's borders. The bills that cleared Congress could light up the sky with aerial displays from bottle rockets and Roman candles -- but not without a firecracker of a debate first.
Mark Lazarchic runs three dozen pop-up fireworks stores across the state, and he says Minnesota businesses are losing millions to surrounding states.
"I might be the only person in America who sees the irony of fighting to set off fireworks for Independence Day," he quipped.
Yet, critics say safety advocates remain wholly opposed to the plan. Dr. Bruce Bennet works in the burn center at Regions Hospital, and he says the number of injuries caused by fireworks has exploded in Minnesota.
"We've seen anywhere from the loss of a few digits to the loss of a hand to even eye injuries to loss of vision," he said.
According to Bennet, the injuries have skyrocketed since 2002, when the state expanded fireworks. He predicts it's only going to get worse.
"As you make them more available, we are going to see an increase in the rate of injuries," he said.
Yet, the bill would only allow fireworks to be bought and used for 5 weeks, starting on June 1st and ending just after the Fourth of July, and it would give local communities the power to put restrictions in place as well.