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Fireworks Ban In Illinois

Austin Berg, Illinois Policy Institute

The Annie Frey Show
July 12, 2018 - 3:46 pm

TJ: I got poor Austin Berg hanging on. Austin, almost forgot about you, I'm just very sorry my friend.

AB: Guys, we've got real fireworks to talk about

TJ: That's right. Well, excellent segue. We're going to now talk to Austin Berg who's at the Illinois Policy Institute. Frequent guest on The Annie Frey Show, on The Tim Jones Show, and on The Marc Cox Show, and all of our other shows. And Austin, first of all, let me give you my condolences, because you do live in the People's Republic of Illinois. I'm very sorry, so.

AB: That's okay. I've got family in souther Illinois so sometimes I can, I can go over to the Missouri side of the border if I need.

TJ: Exactly, I mean very much like, I mean Austin we, we joke about it, but it's true, but for one little tiny county up in the north-eastern corner. Illinoisan and Illinoisans are very much like common sense Missourians.

AB: I would agree, but I would also say that with the caveat of we've had some pretty terrible fiscal conservatives as well, according to rebulicans in Illinoi from those regions  and a lot of that has to do with the power structure of Cook County. But you know there are other ways that those things can be felt in influence and one of them is through, through public sector unions for instance, and those people have been very adept at funding Republicans for a long time.

TJ: Absolutely. I want you I want to ask you about kind of the fallout of Janus and what's next but let me ask you first about the the main reason I wanted you on today was it we will wrap up we'll wrap up Independence week and everybody's been on vacation and it was right to know the week last week and we we we discovered that and you all discovered that Illinois can't ban enough things. They can't take fun away enough and apparently now it's, it's, it's it's a firework ban. That's the latest thing. You know, guns weren't good enough now, we gotta ban, we gotta ban fireworks as well.

AB: Well the fireworks ban in Illinois, it's just it's been around for 75 years. It's more of a case of inaction than action, right? These things have been this has been the law of land for a really long time since you know things like Barn fires were like a very big state concern and things, and it just stayed on the books and so all of our surrounding states in Illinois and almost every state in the country, you can legally buy you can legally sell you can legally use fireworks. In Illinois if you shoot off a Roman Candle you can get a misdemeanor fine and you could go to jail. 

TJ: Wow, Austin, is that a state law? That's a statewide law?

AB: Right, that's a statewide law. We're actually one of the only four states that does this. Massachusetts bans all fireworks and sparklers the whole the whole kit and caboodle. Illinois is one of only three states where we ban everything except, you know, rinky-dink things like like sparklers.

TJ: Wow, wow. Has there ever been a movement to like let kids have fun on the fourth of July in state of Illinois?

AB: I found, I found when I was researching my column on this, I found actually a newspaper article from 1877 in Chicago and it was complaining that the paper boys from this paper which, which is long gone, you know, they could have no fun on the 4th of July because of city ordinance band all fireworks and they said you know, the city kids don't get to have any fun and the country kids get to have all the fun. Well, now the city kids and the country kids across, Illinois don't get to have any fun and the state of Illinois obviously loses out on the business because adults are going to buy these things because they're fun and it's a celebration of our independence. They're going to do so across state lines. It's just a totally, your shooting yourself in the foot.

TJ: Well, and how easy is it, how is use it for anybody anywhere near the the metro area of St. Louis all they got to do. It's a stupid law, right because it's so easily worked around like it was hop across the river go to one of our many counting that we do have some counties in Missouri that ban fireworks, but those are really dislike this bit congested areas, congested counties, and I have, border on three Counties and I can go to any of my surrounding counties outside of St. Louis County and I can buy fireworks. The tents are right there on the border. So that's all illinoisans have to do right? It's such a silly law.

AB: It's ridiculous. One way you can tell it's a stupid law is that you can easily get around it by, you know, moving a mile away. Another way to tell if something is a stupid lot as if it was actually enforce most of your population would be in jail. So, the case with the with Illinois fireworks for doing something that is of no harm to anybody else we of course you're going to have people getting noise complaints and of course you're going to, and I get I'll tell you every year I get almost more angry emails about saying will Illinois should legalize fireworks than I do about any other issue and we talked we talked about a lot of touchy stuff in Illinois. So, I know there people have some strong feelings about this, but I'll just say that the vast majority of other states have done this safely have done this in a common sense way in this is you know, a fundamental right of being an American is, is celebrating your Independence in this way. I can tell you my Southern Illinois family is no safer than folks in Missouri because of the fireworks ban.

TJ: Well, and they're definetly no safer than not or how about the city of Chicago, which bans everything including firearms, but all firearms, I imagine and one of the most dangerous cities in the nation and so banning some, banning an instrument or a tool doesn't fix the problem that you're trying to go after generally.

AB: And it's somewhat of a similar dynamic because where did those guns come from that are in Chicago northwest Indiana. in the same thing with fireworks, right? I mean, it's it's it's not it's not a workable solution when it comes to fireworks at all. And thankfully we  actually saw Barb Wheeler in Illinois Republican file bill on July 3rd saying to license and regulate the legal sale and use of fireworks in Illinois. It's already got two co-sponsors. We got a petition up on our website to legalize fireworks. It's got almost 10,000 signatures already. I think people are ready to get rid of this because every years just a reminder of the state as you said, you know needlessly sucking the marrow out of people's lives with something like this. It is so common sense and it's just another, you know, kind of poking the eye at people who live in Illinois and it should it should be totally repealed, immediatly.

TJ: Speaking to Austin Berg director of content strategy over the Illinois Policy Institute. You can follow them and you can read this article and a ton of other material at Illinoispolicy.org. Austin, people might say call that how cute you know, that's nice have a firework ban big deal, but it's just an it's just an example of a bigger problem, isn't it? Illinois seems to find more and more ways than, this is been on the books a long time as you mentioned, but every year Springfield as in Springfield, Illinois where the capital is, they seem to come up with more devices and more laws and regulations to drive people out of Illinois. I mean, they should be wanting to get rid of bans in things that aren't, that aren't good for people because I think for 2 years running now, Illinois has lost more people population wise than any other state in the Union.

AB: Yeah, we've had four consecutive years of population decline. The only other state that had more is West Virginia, which is at 5 and whenever you're in the same sentence with West Virginia when it comes to the demographics, that's not a good thing. So, yeah, we should absolutely be looking to to repeal things like this. And yeah, yeah, it's small potatoes of course, but as you said it's symbolic and the other thing I would mention is that it's actually you can see in the conversation around this. There's way too much talk of hey if we legalize it we can get all this new tax revenue. That's a secondary concern. The primary concern is the fact that this is a total nanny-state type of move. It's disrespectful to let you know consenting adults wanting to do what they want to do on their fourth of July. The spill-over a benefit of course, is that were broke state and that this could generate new sales tax revenue, just like any other item. But if that were the case that should be offset with a tax reduction somewhere else. That should be totally revenue-neutral and the primary reason to repeal this man is not tax revenue.

TJ: Austin you made you you just referenced a point in your article that I've I'm looking at right here and you got this paragraph here where you make such a brilliant point is that isn't it sad that Illinois, you know the once-great Land of Lincoln the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment for Freedom, right? To, to move that question forward. They've gone to the opposite extreme haven't they work where they take freedoms away through their over-regulation their over-taxation there over litigation a great city of a great state like Illinois with the we make fun of Chicago lab, but we like to visit it down here in St. Louis. It's a great city. Isn't it a shame that they try to find more more ways to move people out because they are the ultimate Nanny state in the country maybe next to, California.

AB: Yeah, I mean we have tons of tons of different regulations that are just old archaic vestiges of another time. But I think the encouraging thing about that is more and more people are being are becoming aware of this and we have all these tools on Illinoispolicy.org as you said to contact lawmakers about this stuff and just like any other movement for freedom, it's going to come from The Grass Roots. So I think people should be hopeful that if you sent, I mean if you call  that lawmakers, you signed the petition send an email, my guess this is a big guess, but within the next five years has been will be repealed in Illinois. It's been the trend across the country for the last 10 years state after state after state has gotten rid of these bans because they're all old. They're all from the 1920s and 30s and you didn't fireworks have become much safer. And guess what even as all of these states of started legalizing fireworks, the number of emergency room visits for fireworks at than flat no effect whatsoever. So the safety argument for me. I mean, in fact the best safety argument is legalizing these things since they could be licensed and regulated and people get can get good advice for what they buy. So absolutely, and I think people should definitely contact lawmakers about this if they care about it. It's symbolic of a ton of other issues we have but hey, we might have high taxes, but we should at least be able to blow some stuff up on the 4th of July.

TJ: Absolutely, Austin, Can I ask you one question as we wrap up here about the Janus decision?

AB: Yeah, of course

TJ: Yes, so we're fascinated by that because of course, you know where we're right next to the state that started. Mark Janus is an Illinois and he's from Illinois took a case all the way to the Supreme Court. It went in his favor. We here in Missouri, you know, we're just trying to you know, keep, keep them in Republican majorities we have keep our common sense. You have a balanced budget and we just lower taxes again. These are all wonderful things but we look at all Illinois, and we think we like we don't want Illinois to fail. We don't want, it's so strange that you got these two states next to each other in Illinois is so deep blue is the Janus decision going to affect that all? Is it going to make Illinois maybe a little more purple as the years go on.

AB: Well, I say this Mark Janus who is life met and spoken with many times as it is a complete hero of mine and and he's really emblematic of the power of one person to stand up for his rights in effect of millions of other people in the United States and it was a fantastic day in June when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. These people no longer have to make this unconstitutional choice of keeping my, my job is a public servant or paying a union. And really I think that is what the case is about. It might have political effects that might have other effects on state spending. That's not really what the case is about the cases about the First Amendment just like we said how the fireworks ban is about personal freedom. The Janus case is about personal freedom should, who should control the relationship with the Union the worker or the union? We believe it's the worker in the Supreme Court agreed with that and I could not be happier about that victory.

TJ: Whether it's fireworks or worker's choice you can read  all about all these great ideas for not only the state of Illinois in Illinois policymakers, but really ideas that are there could be transformational for every state, every state government every every citizen to look at at Illinoispolicy.org. Austin Berg, thank you so much for joining us today and good luck having a more festive 4th of July next year.