New measure protects gun owners’ information from FOIA

For Immediate Release
Jan. 24, 2013

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

New measure protects gun owners’ information from FOIA

LANSING, Mich— Sen. Tom Casperson testified in the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday in support of Senate Bill 49, which protects information collected from registered gun owners and concealed pistol license (CPL) holders under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  

“This is a step in the right direction for the privacy of gun owners,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “This bill closes a loophole so that personal information cannot be released in Michigan as it has been in the eastern portion of the country recently. Such disclosure is not only a threat to public safety and an invasion of privacy, but it serves no legitimate public service.”

In December, a New York newspaper published the names and addresses along with an interactive map showing the locations of permitted gun owners in several New York counties. This sparked outrage from gun owners who felt their privacy was violated and that they had become the target of anti-gun factions.  

“This legislation will strengthen measures in Michigan’s current law to ensure that all gun owners’ personal information is not jeopardized by those looking to infringe on our Second Amendment rights,” Casperson said.   

The bill passed out of committee and now proceeds to the full Senate for consideration.  

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Firearm sale clarifications enacted into law

For Immediate Release
Jan. 18, 2013

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

Firearm sale clarifications enacted into law

LANSING, Mich.— Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill that allows all non-residents of Michigan to purchase rifles and shotguns in Michigan and Michigan residents to purchase those long guns in other states that allow it.

Senate Bill 984 was introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, to fix a Michigan law allowing federally licensed firearms dealers to sell rifles and shotguns only to Michigan residents or nonresidents of contiguous states.  

This provision was enacted to mirror federal law decades ago; however, the federal requirement has since been repealed so that federally licensed firearms dealers can sell rifles and shotguns to residents of any state as long as the purchaser is in compliance with relevant federal law and applicable state laws.  

“This outdated statute was brought to my attention by one of my constituents who himself is a federally licensed firearms dealer who wanted to see this clarification in the Michigan law,” said Casperson.

“Michigan’s law is now consistent with federal law so that our firearms dealers are not at a competitive disadvantage compared to dealers in other states that have already made this clarification in their state laws. Not only is that good for business in Michigan, but it is good that law-abiding individuals will no longer have to bear an unnecessary restriction on their ability to purchase a long gun.”

With the Governor’s signature, SB 984 is now Public Act 378 of 2012.

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Governor signs PILT payment reforms

LANSING—Legislation to increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to local governments for state-owned land within their boundaries was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday.

Public Acts 603 and 604 of 2012, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Darwin Booher, address repetitive problems with PILT payments not being paid on time or in full. 

When the state purchases land, that land is removed from the local property tax rolls. To make up for the loss of this property tax revenue, the state is supposed to pay PILT or swamp taxes to the affected local units of government and school districts.

“By the governor signing these reforms, our local governments and schools can expect to receive these important funds on time and in full,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “This is critical to our communities who count on these payments to maintain critical services and help provide a quality education for our children. I also sponsored this reform to encourage the state to fully consider the real cost of owning property when looking at buying more land.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) owns about 4.6 million acres of land, with the vast majority of that located in the Northern Lower Peninsula or Upper Peninsula. In addition, the federal government owns approximately 3.1 million acres.

“Education and local services are negatively impacted when land transfers from a private owner to the state because the state payments are significantly less,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This reform helps close the difference in revenues by ensuring that our schools and local governments receive timely and fair compensation for property owned by the state. The change was long overdue and desperately needed, especially in areas like Northern Michigan where some counties have had more than half of their land base taken off the tax rolls.”

PAs 603 and 604 increase PILT payments for purchased lands by ensuring payments are based on current taxable values and millage rates and raising the payment rates on tax-reverted land from $2 per acre to $4 per acre. This is the first increase since 1986 and represents a raise due to inflation increase since then. 

“I am very pleased that the Michigan Association of Counties was able to be a part of these common-sense reforms so that counties can count on the state to pay these bills going forward,” said Tim McGuire, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “I am grateful that Senators Casperson and Booher took on this very important issue. Our members in counties with high state land ownership will be better able to provide the services that their residents expect now that these reforms are in place.”

Other highlights of the new laws include:

• Requiring the state to make payments by Feb. 14 to locals that have submitted their information as required; and
• Inserting a penalty on the state for not making payments on time – identical to penalties assessed on landowners who do not pay property taxes.

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Bills to allow wolf hunting season and address livestock depredation signed by governor

For Immediate Release
Jan. 4, 2013
 
Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

Bills to allow wolf hunting season and address livestock depredation signed by governor
 
LANSING, Mich.—Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that would allow for the establishment of a hunting season for wolves in Michigan and provide fair indemnification payments for livestock killed by wolves, coyotes and cougars.   
 
Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, sponsored Senate Bill 1350 (Public Act 520 of 2012). The measure designates wolves as a game animal and authorizes the Natural Resources Commission to establish a game season. SB 996 (PA 487 of 2012), also sponsored by Casperson, would build upon provisions in current law to ensure livestock owners receive fair and timely compensation for animals killed by wolves, coyotes or cougars. In recent years, farmers have expressed frustration with the growing number of livestock they lose to wolves and the delay in compensation received from the state.
 
“Wolves have made a dramatic recovery in Michigan, with a current population around 700 animals and almost all of that population residing in the central and western U.P.,” said Casperson. “Wolves need to be managed along with other species, and management strategies should include the option of a game season.”  
 
The hunt can legally be considered because wolves were removed from the endangered species list for the Great Lakes region at the beginning of the year. The move places wolf management under jurisdiction of the state of Michigan. Other states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, have already established game seasons for wolves with their hunts occurring this fall.
 
“With wolf numbers far exceeding population goals, I continue to hear concerns of the impacts they are having on people’s lives and businesses,” Casperson said. “Residents across the Upper Peninsula have repeatedly asked for a game season to help control the wolf population, reduce livestock and pet depredation and enhance public safety.
 
“The Department of Natural Resources now agrees that a game season is needed as part of the approach to manage wolves. As season parameters are developed with the potential for a hunt in the fall of 2013, I will help ensure that U.P. residents, who actually live where the wolves are, are included and heard.”
 

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Bill to allow recreational uses in county forests signed by governor

For Immediate Release
Jan. 2, 2013
 
Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

Bill to allow recreational uses in county forests signed by governor

LANSING, Mich.—A bill that would allow municipal forestland acquired from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), such as county forests, to be used for recreational purposes in addition to being managed for timber has been signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Local residents and elected officials from Ontonagon County brought forward a good suggestion to fix the law to ensure that local communities can choose to allow recreation in their local forests as a way to promote the use and enjoyment of our natural resources,” said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, sponsor of Senate Bill 1031.

As Ontonagon County was developing their county recreational plan and wanted to allow multi-use trails in county forests, they found that the state law did not allow trails on the county forestland that was obtained from the DNR.  

“We need to make Michigan, and the U.P. in particular, the destination for multi-recreational trail use.  This change is a small step in that direction as it will lead to more recreation opportunities including multi-use trails for our residents and visitors to use to enjoy the outdoors,” Casperson said.    

Senate Bill 1031 is now Public Act 488 of 2012.

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