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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Explosive About Face

For decades when it comes to 4th of July time, Michigan residents
become instant lawbreakers thanks to lawmakers who have banned really
dangerous fireworks.
Hence, half the state travels across the border into Ohio to pick
up the contraband and everyone secretly crosses the Michigan state line
hoping the state cops don't nab them en route to the family picnic.
But hope is on the way.
The continuing budget crunch is forcing lawmakers to get inventive
and here's the latest scheme: Legalize those fireworks, force the
seller to pay a fee and the money would go, where else? Into a fund to
cover the cost of local fire services.
It makes sense. Since the explosives are undoubtedly going to
cause some grass fires or injury to somebody, the local fire shops will
need the extra money to respond to all the firework mayhem.
Chalk it up as another example of how far lawmakers will go to
avoid a revenue increase. If dangerous fireworks were too risky in the
past, why all of a sudden is it safe to light these things now?
Because lawmakers don't want to tax you in the pocketbook and if you
lose a digit fumbling around with these M-80's and the like, that's
your fault not their's.
On a grander level the concept of a user fee, which is what the
fireworks fee would be, the backers of more revenue for the roads are
still stuck in neutral unable to muster enough votes to raise the road
Here again it makes logical sense to let those who use the roads,
pay for the roads. Yet as noted in this space countless times before,
when has logic ever been the touch stone of legislative decisions?
The road building lobby is running out of patience as it remains
clueless on how to break the log jam in this election year. The best
hope now is for a vote after the November election which means another
construction season will come and go with the pot holes getting bigger,
the cracks in the freeway bridges getting wider and because Michigan
can't match the federal highway dollars, that money will go to Ohio and
At least you won't have to drive to Ohio to get your


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