Dayton douses fireworks’ bill; hunting, fishing license fee increases heading to governor

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Saturday (April 28) doused a fireworks bill allowing stronger fireworks as well as aerial fireworks, such as bottle rockets, with a gubernatorial veto.

Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, had carried the bill in the Republican Senate and acknowledged while some people could get hurt by liberalizing fireworks, people get hurt riding bicycles, skateboarding, doing many different things.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Saturday vetoed a fireworks bill that would have allowed for more powerful fireworks as well as bottle rockets and other aerial displays. (Photo by T.W. Budig)

Bill supporters spoke of the need to be free from a perceived nanny state mentally that causes residents to break state laws in the pursuit of a little fun.

But Dayton in his veto letter indicated that he viewed things differently.

“Most Minnesotans are responsible enough to ignite and explode these inherently dangerous devices properly and safely. Unfortunately, some are not,” he said.

Dayton went to say that sometimes the proper role of government is to protect citizens from hurting themselves.

Sen. Mike Jungbauer spoke with a colleague at the Minnesota Legislature. (file photo)

“In this case, government has the responsibility to do its utmost to protect vulnerable young Minnesotans, courageous fire fighters and police officers, and innocent bystanders of all ages, who could become victims of someone else’s carelessness,” Dayton wrote.

In other State Capitol happenings, the Republican House and Senate sent to the governor on Saturday (April 28) the game and fish conference committee report containing hunting and fishing license fee increases, provisions for the establishment of gray wolf hunting and trapping seasons and other provisions.

The legislation passed the Senate on a 34 to 28 vote after it passed the House on a 68 to 62 vote.

Democrats criticized the legislation for a variety of reasons.

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, argued that recent game and fish bills have been a “grab bag of junk.”

Hansen slammed Republican handing of the game and fish bill, arguing that in straining to keep their “artificial deadline” for closing the session on Monday (April 30) they never gave the public an opportunity to weigh in on the bill.

In the Senate, Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, pointed to the “wolf killing” section of the bill as particularly bad.

“To immediately have a hunt is irresponsible,” she said of the proposed hunting season this fall for the recently federally delisted gray wolf.

Further, Eaton argued the state’s handling of the entire wolf issue has shown a callousness towards Native Americans who hold the animal in special regard, she explained.

The vote in both the House and Senate on the game and fish conference committee report was bipartisan.

The Dayton Administration has been seeking hunting and fishing license fee increases — the last general increase being about a decade ago — to replenish the Department of Natural Resources’ critical game and fish fund, which could, if left without additional revenue, dip into the red by next summer.