Measure to prohibit bureaucratic overreach by DNR has passed the Legislature

LANSING, Mich—A bill authored by Sen. Tom Casperson to prohibit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from issuing orders or rules that could over-restrict significant amounts of land as the department previously proposed has passed the Legislature. 

“While we value and appreciate the diversity of our natural resources in Michigan, residents across the state made it clear in supporting Senate Bill 78 that they want to see a balance between protection of our resources and their wise use for recreation, tourism and economic development,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Michigan has much to offer in terms of natural resources, and we need to ensure that the people of this state can enjoy them without overly restrictive regulations imposed by department bureaucrats that will only serve to hamper our way of life with no real need to do so being apparent.

“Despite what environmental organizations and some liberal professors are claiming, the sky is not falling and this bill will not lead to the end of biodiversity in Michigan.”

SB 78 originated after the DNR proposed a program under Gov. Granholm in which more than 650,000 acres of public and private land in the northern Lower Peninsula alone would have been designated as biodiversity stewardship areas (BSA). The DNR intended to proceed with additional designations of land in the Upper Peninsula, but those recommendations were never made after considerable concerns over the last several years were raised on what the negative impact might be on the recreation, tourism and forest products industries in Michigan.

“The biggest reason why Weyerhaeuser chose Michigan as the place to start their OSB business over 30 years ago was the amount of timber available in this state,” said Todd Johnson, forestry services manager for Weyerhaeuser OSB-Grayling. “The U.S. Forest Service data then, and still today, identifies Michigan as having one of the largest timber surpluses in the nation. More set-asides will not lead to healthier forests. It’s our belief that it would result in increased mortality and be a detriment to the economy and overall forest health.” 

While the DNR is no longer pursuing the same BSA program, efforts continue on a scaled-back approach, which could have similar impacts. Many have questioned the need for doing so when more than 20 other state and federal programs exist to protect the natural resources, with biodiversity being part of their objectives.

Current leaders within the DNR acknowledge that another new program is not needed to help achieve and maintain biodiversity in Michigan, but SB 78 is needed for the long-term to ensure state bureaucrats do not proceed again on their own. 

“The Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance stands behind the efforts to limit programs that would impair our citizens’ opportunities to utilize the resources, which are needed to keep our state moving forward in a positive direction,” said Tony Demboski, UPSA president. “Biodiversity is the sum-total of organisms in an environment or ecosystem. It is not, and should not be used as, an agenda to prevent use.”

SB 78 was given final approval by the Legislature on Thursday and sent to the governor for his consideration.

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Casperson and Kivela help Ontonagon County maintain ambulance services

LANSING—Bipartisan efforts by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, led to the completion of a legislative fix this week that will ensure the best of available emergency care will continue to be provided in the Western Upper Peninsula. 

House Bill 5842, sponsored by Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, was sent to the governor on the last day of legislative session with an amendment added by Casperson that included language from a bill Kivela sponsored. Kivela’s bill, HB 5454, cleared the House last week, but due to timing issues the bill, it was prevented from being voted out of the Senate.

Without the legislative change included in HB 5842, Sonco Ambulance would have only been able to provide basic ambulance service, even when staffed by properly licensed EMT-specialists and EMT-paramedics.    

“I am thankful for Representative Pettalia’s support in allowing his bill to be amended to include language from HB 5454. Without his support and the last minute work done by Senator Casperson, the Western Upper Peninsula could have lost a needed protection for public safety,” Kivela said. “It was a great effort by all of those involved, and I am extremely happy that we were able to get this legislation completed before session ended.” 

“Although it was a true team effort to address this problem, I especially want to thank Representative Kivela for his leadership in championing this issue, because his effort set the stage for this legislative fix to be accomplished,” said Casperson. “As we look to the next legislative session, I look forward to working with Representative Kivela and emergency medical service personnel across the Upper Peninsula and rural Michigan to continue on this path of reforming emergency medical services law so that the best available care is provided for people in all rural areas.”

Kivela said, “This is another example of how the UP legislative team continues to work in a bipartisan manner to help one another and residents across the Upper Peninsula.”

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Casperson bill to protect wood-burning stoves passes Legislature

For Immediate Release
Dec. 18, 2014

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

LANSING, Mich—The Legislature has passed Sen. Tom Casperson’s legislation to make sure that Michigan residents aren’t saddled with state regulations on the use of their wood-burning stoves.

Senate Bill 910 aims to prohibit the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from regulating wood-burning stoves through rules and from enforcing any Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations limiting emissions from wood-burning appliances that may be imposed after May 1.

“The proposed EPA regulations are a recent example of overreach by bureaucrats, as we too often see, especially from the EPA,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Using wood as a heating source has been a way of life for centuries in the U.P. This measure will put a stop to any such overreach of government that could occur at the state level in order to protect our way of life.

“Given the challenges last winter presented with extreme conditions which are expected to occur again this year, propane shortages, and price increases that left many families hurting, this is no time for the EPA to advance regulations to restrict one of the most dependable and affordable options for providing a basic need for so many—heat for their homes and small businesses.”

The new standards set forth by the EPA would impact new pellet, corn burner and outdoor wood boilers. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, manufacturers of wood stoves and heating appliances have estimated that the proposed new emission requirements could virtually end the burning of wood for heat in the United States and more than double the cost of new wood-burning appliances.

SB 910 passed the House of Representative this week and was sent to the governor for his consideration.

Sen. Casperson resolution urges Congress to keep the U.P. first class mail processing in Kingsford

For Immediate Release                                                          
Dec. 4, 2014                                                                      

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Tom Casperson authored a resolution on Tuesday that formally requests Congress to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from consolidating the processing of all U.P. first class mail to Green Bay, Wisconsin from the current processing center in Kingsford, Michigan.

“The postal service certainly has some challenges that need to be addressed. However, shipping all of the first class mail from the U.P. for processing at the Green Bay facility is not a fair or reasonable response to those challenges,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba.

“Eliminating first class mail from the Upper Peninsula’s only mail processing center and outsourcing that work to Wisconsin will most certainly lead to a situation where first class mail in the Upper Peninsula stands no chance of next day delivery. It is simply unacceptable and unfair to the U.P.’s business community and area residents. 

“Countless U.P. businesses depend on overnight first class mail delivery, and the discontinuation of this service will, with real significance, adversely impact many small businesses—that are already facing a number of other real challenges locally.”

Senate Resolution 192 states that the U.S. Postal Service plans to close or consolidate the Kingsford location on Jan. 5, 2015.

The resolution urges congressional intervention to stop the proposal, stating: “The consolidation will severely delay first class mail delivery and result in a degradation of postal service standards by virtually eliminating overnight first-class mail delivery in large portions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

SR 192 was adopted by the Senate and will be sent to the president of the U.S. Senate, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representative and each member of the Michigan congressional delegation.