Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bill that would have expanded firework sales in Minnesota over the weekend, citing in-state data that shows fireworks-related injuries and property damage increased dramatically since 2002, and over half those injured were children.
In his veto letter, Dayton began by saying that despite his decision, he greatly respects the care the authors used while crafting the bill and their willingness to listen to and incorporate the views of others, dubbing their work a "role model for the legislative process."
Yet, Dayton wrote that he can not grant greater latitude to Minnesotans who want to buy and use more fireworks because even though most residents could use them safely and responsibly, others could not.
In his letter, Dayton cited Minnesota-specific data on fireworks-related injuries and property damage regarding the expansion of fireworks in 2002, which allowed non-aerial and non-explosive fireworks.
Before the law change, there were 350 fireworks-related injuries in Minnesota during two weeks around the Fourth of July holiday, for an average of 35 per year. Since 2002, however, that number jumped to 790 reported injuries in the same two-week period, marking a 111 percent increase to an average of 79 per year.
Of those injured, 52 percent were attributed teens and younger children, with children 9-years-old and younger accounting for 22 percent of injuries.
Damage statistics show an even larger increase. In the decade before the change, property loss totaled $908, 430. After the 2002 expansion, that number saw a 500 percent increase, totaling nearly $4,65,000.
The bill to expand fireworks sales was opposed by the state fire marshal and commissioner of public safety, as well as over 47 organizations that include the City of Minneapolis, the Mayo Clinic Health System, and Minnesota Safe Kids.
Had Dayton signed the bill into law, the fireworks expansion would have only allowed sales of aerial or explosive fireworks a few weeks before the Fourth of July holiday, and individual municipalities would have had the ability to set their own restrictions on sales and use.