Fireworks weren’t the only things making noise in July. Their use over the Fourth of July holiday drew the ire of some Democrats who were looking to pounce on any issue they could and turn it into a political hot potato.

In the face of groundbreaking reforms to state government, from fixing the unsustainable public pension system to tax reduction and red tape relief, Democrats seem desperate for an issue to use against Republicans.

“Aha!” they said, “what about these obnoxious fireworks?”

It looks like a winner: Republicans pass a law; people hear more fireworks; some of them don’t like fireworks; maybe they’ll vote for Democrats again in November.

Once you peel away the political spin, however, and take a look at the issue, you gain a new appreciation for the positive reforms that are finally putting Maine on the right track after decades of one-party rule.

L.D. 83, the bill that legalized many consumer fireworks in Maine, did not impose fireworks on Maine communities. It simply removed the ban at the state level so that localities can decide for themselves whether, or to what extent, to allow consumer fireworks.

Some towns are full of fireworks enthusiasts, and they decided to let the sales and use of fireworks move forward.

People in other towns prefer peace and quiet, and they enacted municipal ordinances to prevent the use of fireworks.

Still other communities, like my town of Scarborough, took a middle-ground approach, allowing fireworks around Independence Day and New Year’s, but not the rest of the year.

All of this is about local control, relaxing the heavy hand of Augusta and allowing Mainers to make decisions that are best for their communities.

It has often been said that the best government is the one that is closest to the people. Republicans believe in that principle and want to delegate more decision-making to our town halls rather than to faceless bureaucrats.

That’s the New England way, and I think we need more of it.

If you want to limit fireworks in your community, go speak to your city councilor or town selectman and ask for an ordinance against them. But if those in your community enjoy an occasional Asteroid Blaster or Creole Crackle, you should be able to light one on your property without people from the other side of the state using their representatives in Augusta to tell you “no.”

That being said, fireworks are more enjoyable when everyone uses common courtesy. Don’t violate your town ordinances, and don’t use them after 10 p.m. Please bear in mind that young children and animals may be sensitive to loud, sudden noises.

Along with the fundamental fairness that comes from restoring local control, lifting the ban on fireworks has been an economic boon for Maine.

Pyro City Fireworks, with stores in Manchester, Winslow, Edgecomb, Ellsworth and Presque Isle, has hired more than 40 full-time employees and projects $4 million in revenue this year — far above expectations.

In Scarborough, Phantom Fireworks has opened up shop and employs five full-time workers and up to 70 seasonal workers.

These are jobs that would not have existed without a change in state law to allow local communities to make up their own minds.

Many people are concerned about safety, and understandably so. Fireworks can be dangerous. The facts paint a brighter picture, however.

Many states have actually seen a decrease in fireworks-related injuries after enacting similar bills to legalize them. Connecticut, for example, saw a 57 percent decrease in the wake of legalization in 2006.

Many experts attribute this to increased safety measures and educational initiatives that come from retailers and local authorities.

Besides, common sense tells us that anything bought in an open, legal environment is generally safer than counterparts obtained illegally on the black market, and we all know there was plenty of that going on before the change in Maine law.

In fact, the Platte Institute for Economic Research found that fireworks-related injuries in Nebraska, with its restrictive fireworks laws, were actually higher than in neighboring states that legalize fireworks.

Furthermore, the federal government already bans the most dangerous forms of fireworks, including M-80s, cherry bombs and aerial bombs.

The Mainers I know can see through the political attacks on Republican initiatives that are getting Maine on the right track when it comes to liberty-minded government reform and pro-growth economic policies.

Indeed, thanks to L.D. 83, Mainers have more local control, increased freedom, a few more jobs and an exciting way to celebrate.

State Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough, serves on the Health and Human Services Committee.