I have lived in my sweet little downtown Howell bungalow for 25 years now.
We added a beautiful, screened-in porch on the back of the house in 2011, and we love using it, except during the summer.
Why wouldn’t I want to use my beautiful, screened-in porch in the summer, you ask?
Just one year after we built the porch, the Michigan legislature made legal the sale of fireworks that hadn’t been available in this state during my lifetime.
And why would Michigan do something like that, you ask?
Under the new law, those who sell the high-powered fireworks stuff have to pay an annual “certificate fee” of $1,000 for a permanent location and $600 for a non-permanent location, and they have to purchase additional insurance. In the first year of the law, over 500 retailers bought the certificates. You do the math. And then there is a “fireworks safety fee” of 6 percent added to the retail price of the fireworks, on top of the usual 6 percent Michigan sales tax.
So, the state and insurance companies are making money at the expense of our peace and quiet. Somehow that doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Leave it to Michigan’s legislature, which can’t fix the roads, to instead ensure that my peace gets disturbed every summer.
In essence, the Legislature — via its fireworks law — has turned disrespect into a money-making proposition.
This year’s Fourth of July was the absolute worst ever, sounding more like a full-scale battle than a celebration of freedom.
Someone in my southwest Howell neighborhood blew off stuff that made the 90-year-old windows in my house rattle — literally.
These neighbors must have spent a ton on commercial-grade fireworks because they kept it up for hours.
At one point, I went onto my front porch to see where the all the shock-and-awe was coming from. The air — heavy with the smell of smoke and thick with dust — made me think for a moment that someone’s house was on fire. Nope. It was just the neighbors on the next block, celebrating the Fourth and freedom by making the rest of the neighborhood hostage to their hours-long barrage of what sounded like intense bombing.
Summertime means I can’t use my back porch whenever I like. Summertime means it’s often difficult walking our dog in the evening because he’s frightened by the noise. Summertime means finding things like a spent bottle rocket in my yard, close to my house, and saying a prayer of thanks that it didn’t land on my roof.
Then there was Sunday morning, June 10, 2012, when I snuck out onto my beautiful, screened-in porch with a cup of coffee, hoping to relish the peace and quiet.
Then, at 7:30 a.m., some @$$&)%# blew off a couple boomers.
What is perhaps most frustrating is the difficulty of doing battle against an unenforceable law like this one.
For the first couple years, law enforcement folks told us to call 911 when someone blew up stuff outside of the legal times of federal holidays and the day before and after each.
So I called. I felt guilty for calling because our police officers should be spending their time chasing criminals rather than @$$&)%#$ disturbing the peace, but I figured that the more calls 911 received, the sooner something might be done to roll back the wrong-headed law.
That was until one 911 operator last year said, “You know, these fireworks are legal, don’t you?”
I explained the “legal only for the three-days around federal holidays” things and then I just gave up.
But not the fireworks. The fireworks continue.
So, I am thrilled that the Howell City Council — led by council member Steve Manor — is taking up this issue by sending a letter to the Legislature this week. And there is a bill introduced by Rep. Henry Yanez, a Sterling Heights Democrat, to repeal the fireworks law.
I am crossing my fingers.