|3/13/2014 10:19:00 AM|
Eye on Augusta: Veto of Sen. Johnson's Bill to Regulate Fireworks Use Upheld
by Andy OBrienIn a party-line vote on Wednesday, March 12, the Democratic-led Maine Senate failed to override a veto by Republican Governor Paul LePage of a bill that would have more tightly regulated the use of consumer fireworks in Maine.
LD 168, sponsored by Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln County), would have clarified that fireworks can constitute "loud and unreasonable noise" under the disorderly conduct law. It would also prohibit their use before noon and would have restricted the use of fireworks whenever the governor issues a proclamation prohibiting outdoor fires.
In his veto message, Gov. LePage called the proposal "heavy-handed regulations that are far from reasonable."
In support of the governor's veto, Republicans said that towns and cities can already decide whether they want to enact municipal bans of fireworks. However, Sen. Johnson said that the municipal bans don't go far enough, as the current law gives a presumption that all fireworks use is acceptable within the allowed hours.
"Once consumer fireworks became legal, I heard from more constituents about this one issue than any other," said Johnson in a statement. "Many Mainers complained about the disruptive noise negatively impacting children, veterans who suffer from PTSD, family pets, and farm animals. I also heard from summer residents and people with lakeshore rentals that fireworks are disrupting vacations. This bill would provide some relief for those troubled by irresponsible fireworks use."
In support of the bill, Jon Olson of the Maine Farm Bureau, said fireworks have been a constant problem for farmers since their use was legalized in 2011.
"The number-one issue since last summer and fall is not about restrictive regulations increasing costs to their farm or about pesticide issues or concerns about GMO labeling," said Olson. "The number-one issue is ﬁreworks scaring their livestock."
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