Michigan legislators applaud MHSAA rule change

For Immediate Release           
May 31, 2012    
                                                            
Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840                                                                          

Michigan legislators applaud MHSAA rule change

LANSING, Mich.—State lawmakers applauded today’s news that 94 percent of Michigan schools approved a change to the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s constitution that provides for a limited waiver to the state’s age eligibility standard.  

As a result of that vote, the association’s age rule may now be waived under certain circumstances by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Executive Committee.  

Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, was “relieved and grateful” to hear of the decision the MHSAA handed down.

Casperson, the author of Senate Resolution 145, which unanimously passed the Michigan Senate, called on the MHSAA to propose a rule change that would allow Eric Dompierre and other special needs students like him to compete in high school sport. Casperson said there is a larger lesson to be learned through Eric’s story.  

“In bravely coming before the Michigan Legislature to make the case for athletic equity, Eric left the Legislature with an invaluable lesson by bringing lawmakers together and immediately bridging the philosophical and political differences that all too often keep us from working together toward the common good,” Casperson said.  

“It’s a lesson legislators would do well to remember each and every day we serve. If we are mindful of the lesson left by Eric’s selfless spirit and determination, we will undoubtedly solve many of the problems we face today. For that, we all owe Eric Dompierre our appreciation.”

After hearing the results of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, remarked, “I'm glad the rules were amended to allow so many deserving kids, including Eric Dompierre, to play high school sports without compromising the integrity of the MHSAA rules.”

On May 2, the Dompierres, representing the organization Let ‘Em Play, spoke on behalf of more than 90,000 people who had signed a petition demanding that the MHSAA adopt an equitable policy like the one 23 other states have embraced, which balances the special needs of disabled students with the need to protect the integrity of high school sports.

The MHSAA’s previous policy stated that students who turn 19 prior to Sept. 1 of a school year are not eligible for interscholastic athletics under any circumstances.

The news of the ruling spread quickly to the House of Representatives.

“Eric Dompierre has been setting a good example for his classmates throughout his high school career, and this effort to have the waiver rules changed adds to his list of accomplishments to be proud of,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Jase Bolger, R-Marshall. “I applaud the MHSAA, its member schools and the Dompierre family for finding a way to address this situation for Eric and other talented student athletes who may follow in his footsteps.”

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Casperson welcomes Bob Jacquart to state Capitol

For Immediate Release                                                                  
May 30, 2012          

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840
                                                                    
**PHOTO ADVISORY**

Casperson welcomes Bob Jacquart to state Capitol

 
LANSING, Mich— Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, welcomed Bob Jacquart, CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products of Ironwood, to the Michigan Capitol Tuesday. Jacquart was in Lansing to meet with legislators to make them aware of some innovative and advanced technology his company has developed.

Pictured left to right: Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Bob Jacquart, Casperson and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker.

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Editor’s note: For a print-quality version of this and other Casperson photos, click the image or visit SenatorTomCasperson.com and click the Photowire link.

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Senate passes Casperson beach grooming bill

For Immediate Release
May 23, 2012

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

Senate passes Casperson beach grooming bill

LANSING, Mich.— A measure to clear up confusing and restrictive state regulations that limit shoreline owners’ ability to groom their beaches passed out of the Senate Wednesday, said sponsor Sen. Tom Casperson.

“This proposal interjects some common sense into the regulatory process by removing duplicative regulation, and it protects the rights of property owners to clean up beachfronts on their property,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba.

Senate Bill 1052 proposes to get rid of restrictions implemented by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on how beach maintenance can be done. Under the legislation, property owners would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities.

Certain non-beach-grooming activities like construction projects, digging of channels, or dredging below what is called the regulatory watermark in the legislation will still be subject to a permit from the DEQ, and some restrictions will still be imposed by federal regulations.  

“Although there are still some restrictions on property owners that I believe to be unnecessary, this is not only a big step in the right direction, but an opportunity for us to demonstrate just how unreasonable those remaining restrictions are,” said Casperson.  

“Michigan shoreline property owners are not interested in stopping the citizens of Michigan or other states from walking our beaches and enjoying this most wonderful asset,” said James Hansen of Escanaba, who testified on the measure in committee. “Our major concern has been to have the freedom to groom and maintain these beaches while at the same time eradicate invasive vegetation such as phragmites, thereby allowing property owners and citizens the ability to truly enjoy the shores of the Great Lakes.”

“The regulations contained in current law for beach grooming activities inhibit the property owner’s ability to enjoy and use their beaches,” Casperson said. “This legislation would seek a sensible balance between preservation of coastal wetland areas and private property owners’ rights to groom their beaches and help to control the spread of invasive species, including phragmites.”

SB 1052 now advances to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Senate committee to take testimony on wolf-related legislation via videoconference

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2012

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

Senate committee to take testimony on wolf-related legislation via videoconference

LANSING, Mich.—The Senate Agriculture Committee will take testimony on legislation that will highlight problems caused to Michigan residents and farmers by wolves. The hearing will be held on Thursday, May 24.

Upper Peninsula residents will be able to participate in the committee via videoconference from Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.    

While the hearing will spotlight the growing problems Michigan is having in managing its wolf population in general, it will also specifically focus on legislation to ensure livestock owners receive fair and timely compensation for animals killed by wolves, coyotes or cougars. The legislation was recently introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, who said he has been working with property owners and interested individuals in the U.P. on the bill.  

“With wolf numbers far exceeding population goals, I continue to hear of the impacts they are having on people’s lives and businesses,” said Casperson. “Ensuring that property owners are fairly compensated when their animals are killed by predators is a common-sense policy that needs to be strengthened, especially when those property owners are just trying to make a living.”   

Senate Bill 996 would build upon provisions in current law that provide payments to livestock owners when livestock are killed by wolves, coyotes or cougars. However, the payments are not only slow in being made but routinely less than what the animals are worth. The bill would impose timelines for payment and follow the policy Wisconsin has implemented to establish an animal’s value. In addition, the bill would allow dog and cat owners to be compensated when wolves kill their dogs or cats, subject to certain limitations.

“More must be done to control the growing wolf population and mitigate their impacts in the Upper Peninsula,” Casperson said. “The committee hearing and videoconference opportunity will be a great way for senators in Lansing to hear from my fellow U.P. residents on this important issue.”

The Agriculture Committee is scheduled for Thursday, May 24, at 9 a.m. in room 210 of the Farnum Building in Lansing, with simultaneous videoconferencing at Gogebic Community College, Room B21 of the Solin Business Center, E-4946 Jackson Road in Ironwood at 8 am.  

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State Senate to utilize videoconference for committee testimony on PILT and recreation legislation

For Immediate Release
May 15, 2012

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

State Senate to utilize videoconference for committee testimony on PILT and recreation legislation

LANSING, Mich.—Legislation impacting communities throughout the Upper Peninsula will be discussed in The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee on Thursday, May 17.

Anyone is welcome to participate in the committee via videoconference from the Ontonagon County Courthouse in Ontonagon, said Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Casperson.

Casperson, R-Escanaba, said the committee agenda will include testimony on Senate Bills 1021 and 1022, sponsored by Casperson and Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, to increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) on state-owned land in their boundaries.  

“PILT payments are supposed to be made by the state on land it owns, but the state has been late or making reduced payments for several years now.” “With more than two million acres of state-owned land in the Upper Peninsula, this makes the PILT payments extremely important to our communities. The proposed legislation will change the law to ensure payments are made on time and that local units of government receive their fair share.”  

The committee will also review SB 1031, which would let local units of government allow motorized and non-motorized recreational activities on locally owned forestland that was deeded to them by the Department of Natural Resources years ago when a great deal of land reverted to the state due to people not being able to pay their taxes. Current law stipulates that only timber management is allowed on the land; otherwise it would revert back to the state.

“This issue was brought to my attention by residents and county officials in Ontonagon County who want to allow recreation in their county forest,” Casperson said. “I appreciate their efforts to promote and expand recreation and tourism opportunities that are so important to our U.P. communities and way of life.”

The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee is scheduled for Thursday, May 17, at 8:30 a.m. in room 210 of the Farnum Building in Lansing, with simultaneous videoconferencing at the Ontonagon County Courthouse, 98th District Court Room, 725 Greenland Road in

http://www.misenategop.com/senators/readarticle.asp?id=5093&District=38Ontonagon at 8:30 a.m.  

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State Senate to utilize videoconference for committee testimony on PILT legislation

For Immediate Release
May 8, 2012

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

State Senate to utilize videoconference for committee testimony on PILT legislation

LANSING, Mich.—The Senate Natural Resources, Great Lakes and Environment Committee will hear testimony on legislation regarding payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) on Thursday, May 10.  Upper Peninsula (UP) residents will be able to participate in the committee via videoconference from Bay College West in Iron Mountain.   

“Thursday’s committee affords another opportunity for UP residents to participate in the legislative process in Lansing on an issue that affects communities across the Upper Peninsula,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Casperson.

“Townships and counties across the UP are being short changed on revenue due to the reductions in PILT payments and the large amount of publicly owned land in the UP,” Casperson, R-Escanaba, said.  “While the public lands provide some valuable benefits, the increasing amount of land, which exceeds 50 percent of some townships and counties, impacts the services provided by local governments.”
Thursday’s committee will hear testimony on Senate Bills 1021 and 1022, sponsored by Casperson and Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart. The legislation would ensure that PILT payments are made on time and in full.  The bills would also seek to increase PILT payments.  

“The PILT payments made today to local units of government in the UP do not come close to the amount locals would receive if the land was privately owned,” said Casperson.  “Through this legislation not only are we attempting to get local units of government closer to what they are due, but we also hope to educate legislators and department staff in Lansing about how adversely local units of government are impacted by so much public land ownership.”  
Anyone is welcome to attend the committee meeting in Lansing or videoconference in Iron Mountain on Thursday.
The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee is scheduled for Thursday, May 10, at 9 a.m. EST in room 210 of the Farnum Building in Lansing, with simultaneous videoconferencing at Bay College West, ITV Room 107, 2801 North US 2 in Iron Mountain at 8 a.m. CST.  

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Casperson praises MHSAA for considering a change to its age-eligibility rule

For Immediate Release           
May 8, 2012    
                                                            
Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840                                                                          

Casperson praises MHSAA for considering a change to its age-eligibility rule

LANSING, Mich.— State Sen. Tom Casperson thanked the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) for considering a change that would allow a specific and limited exception to its age-eligibility rule.

Casperson, the author of a Senate resolution calling on the MHSAA to make the change, said he was “excited and grateful” to hear the news.  

“The MHSAA has shown the same type of leadership today as it has shown historically,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “I was especially pleased to see the strong statement that the association issued with its announcement that it ‘does not advance proposals it does not want the membership to support,’ and that an affirmative vote by schools is being specifically requested.”

The need for the rule change is highlighted by the situation of Eric Dompierre, a junior at Ishpeming High School who has Down syndrome, which led to his being held back in junior kindergarten and first grade. Playing sports in school has helped build Eric’s self-esteem, self-confidence and identity—lessons that often cannot be learned elsewhere, Casperson said.

Senate Resolution 145, sponsored by Casperson, calls on the MHSAA to adopt a policy that allows an age-eligibility waiver in certain cases. Michigan students currently cannot compete in high school sports if they are older than 19 before September 1.

Last week Eric Dompierre and his father Dean testified in a Senate committee in support of SR 145.

“Like the Dompierres, I am eager to see the specifics of the MHSAA proposal and hope the association will make the specifics available to the family and the Legislature immediately,” Casperson said. “However, I am confident that the association has struck the right balance for the state, ensuring that athletes with certain, specific disabilities can participate in their senior year, while ensuring the integrity of high school athletics.  

“While this decision is just the first step forward to ensure equal opportunity for all students, it is a good first step. We look forward to the MHSAA continuing to lead all on this issue so that Michigan becomes the 24th state with a sensible policy that balances the integrity of high school athletics with the special needs of students like Eric.”

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Michigan’s legislative leaders come together to ask MHSAA to lead in making change to age-eligibility policy

For Immediate Release     
May 4, 2012    
                   
Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840                            

Michigan’s legislative leaders come together to ask MHSAA to lead in making change to age-eligibility policy

LANSING, Mich.— One day after the Michigan Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 145, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, Michigan’s four legislative leaders took the significant step of jointly signing a letter to the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) pleading the case of Eric Dompierre.

“Today, we are asking that the MHSAA to lead once again,” the letter states. “In following the state and national attention that the story of Eric Dompierre has received, we believe that Eric’s case highlights an unintended consequence with Michigan’s age-eligibility standard and the need for the association to consider waiving that standard in special circumstances.”   

SR 145 seeks to modify the MHSAA’s age limit for student athletes. The policy currently states that students who turn 19 prior to Sept. 1 of a school year are not eligible for interscholastic athletics. “I am excited and grateful that the leaders of both chambers and parties have rallied around the cause for which Eric Dompierre has become the courageous, compelling and endearing face,” said Casperson.

The letter, signed by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, and House Minority Leader Richard Hammel, concludes by asking the MHSAA “to do exactly as it has historically done, and lead once again by crafting a specific and limited exception to the MHSAA’s age-eligibility rule and put that waiver to your members for expeditious adoption.”

“I want to thank Senator Casperson for introducing the Dompierre family to the members of the Senate and for raising awareness about Eric Dompierre’s story,” said Richardville, R-Monroe.  “Eric is an athlete who deserves the opportunity to play sports with his fellow classmates, and I hope the MHSAA will take the time to consider the unique circumstances that athletes like Eric present.”

“The Dompierres are an extraordinary family,” added Bolger, R-Marshall. “When I met with them, I found that Eric exudes the value of life in an infectious and inspiring way. He and his teammates have a lot of great lessons to teach adults, if we're willing to learn.”

SR 145 passed out of the Senate on Thursday. A similar resolution, HR 25, is currently pending before the House Education Committee, which is also expected to see a swift vote.

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Senate panel approves Casperson beach grooming bill

For Immediate Release
May 3, 2012

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

Senate panel approves Casperson beach grooming bill

LANSING, Mich.— A measure to clear up confusing and restrictive state regulations that limit shoreline owners’ ability to groom their beaches passed out of committee Thursday, said sponsor Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.

“This proposal interjects some common sense into the regulatory process by removing duplicative regulation and protects the rights of property owners to clean up beachfronts on their property,” Casperson said.

Senate Bill 1052 proposes to get rid of restrictions implemented by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on how beach maintenance can be done. Under the legislation, property owners would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities.

Certain non-beach-grooming activities like construction projects, digging of channels, or dredging below what is called the regulatory watermark in the legislation will still be subject to a permit from the DEQ and some restrictions will still be imposed by federal regulations.  

“Although there are still some restrictions on property owners that I believe to be unnecessary, this is not only a big step in the right direction, but an opportunity for us to demonstrate just how unreasonable those remaining restrictions are,” said Casperson.  

“Michigan shoreline property owners are not interested in stopping the citizens of Michigan or other states from walking our beaches and enjoying this most wonderful asset,” said James Hansen of Escanaba, who testified on the measure.  “Our major concern has been to have the freedom to groom and maintain these beaches while at the same time eradicate invasive vegetation such as phragmites, thereby allowing property owners and citizens the ability to truly enjoy the shores of the Great Lakes.”

Casperson agreed.

“The regulations contained in current law for beach grooming activities inhibit the property owner’s ability to enjoy and use their beaches,” Casperson said. “This legislation would seek a sensible balance between preservation of some coastal wetland areas and private property owners’ rights to groom their beaches and help to control the spread of invasive species.”

SB 1052 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee. The measure now advances to the full Senate for further consideration.

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Senate passes Casperson’s Senate Resolution 145

For Immediate Release
May 3, 2012

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

LANSING, Mich.—Legislation concerning the age limit of high school athletes passed unanimously out of the state Senate today, said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.

Senate Resolution 145 would change the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) age policy on interscholastic athletes.

The policy currently states that students who turn 19 prior to Sept. 1 of a school year are not eligible for interscholastic athletics.

The situation of Eric Dompierre, a constituent of Casperson’s with Down syndrome, highlights the need for the rule change. Eric, a junior at Ishpeming High School, will be 19 prior to the Sept. 1 cutoff date, making him ineligible for his senior year of high school athletics.

“I am very pleased that my fellow senators were able to come together and voice a strong message in support of certain, limited exceptions to the MHSAA age policy,” Casperson said. “Eric’s case is a perfect example. His love for football and basketball has led to his development as a student but has not provided an unfair advantage. This measure just makes sense.”

SR 145 will now be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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