**Media Advisory** Sen. Casperson available for comments following 2018 State of the State address

Sen. Tom Casperson

Sen. Tom Casperson

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tom Casperson will be available for comments following the governor’s 2018 State of the State address on Tuesday.

Sen. Tom Casperson, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee.

Reaction and comments following the governor’s State of the State address.

Immediately following the address, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

By phone or in:
House Appropriations Room
Third floor
State Capitol

Casperson, R-Escanaba, will be available following the State of the State address for comments on state issues mentioned by the governor in the address.

Please call Casperson’s office at (517) 373-7840 or toll-free at 1-866-305-2038 prior to 5 p.m. on Jan. 23 to schedule an interview time with the senator.


**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Casperson welcomes Pastor Scott Breault to Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, proudly welcomed Pastor Scott Breault (right) and his wife Angie to the Michigan Senate on Wednesday. Breault serves as worship, creative and media pastor at the New Life Assembly of God Church in Escanaba and delivered the invocation before the start of Senate session.


Editor’s note: A print-quality version of this photograph is available by clicking on the above image or by visiting www.SenatorTomCasperson.com/Photowire.

Casperson bill would designate part of US-8 as the ‘Medio J. Bacco Memorial Highway’

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday heard testimony on Sen. Tom Casperson’s legislation to honor the life of an influential and innovative member of Michigan’s road-building industry.

“Medio Bacco was a pioneer in concrete highway paving and road building in Michigan who literally helped build our state and improve his community,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “This is about honoring a man who lived the American dream and exemplified the hardworking spirit of the U.P. and our entire state. He immigrated to this country as s child, started from nothing, and became a successful citizen and entrepreneur. It’s a record to be proud of and celebrate.”

Former Rep. Ed McBroom testified in support of the bill and highlighted Bacco’s leadership in the road-building industry and his commitment to his community.

“This memorial not only serves to honor a major contributor to the UP but by choosing this stretch of road, US-8, we help keep alive interesting and important history. This was not only Medio’s first paving project at just 21 years of age, it was the first section of paved highway in the UP,” McBroom said.

Bacco went on to follow his successful project on US-8 to found the Bacco Inc., still operating in Iron Mountain, and doing construction projects across Michigan and the Midwest. Bacco was a leader who gave back to his community, helped to finance the construction of the St. Mary and St. Joseph Church in Iron Mountain, served on the Iron Mountain School Board for eight years and donated $90,000 to the Iron Mountain School District, establishing a scholarship for Michigan Technological University.

Senate Bill 577 would designate a portion of US-8 from the Michigan-Wisconsin border to the intersection with US-2 in the city of Norway as the “Medio J. Bacco Memorial Highway.”

The bill would have no fiscal impact on the state or local government. Under state law, the Michigan Department of Transportation can place markers indicating the name of a memorial highway only “when sufficient private contributions are received to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining those markers.”


Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorTomCasperson.com/Photowire.

Casperson welcomes Escanaba officials to Capitol for ‘dark store’ case in Michigan Supreme Court

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tom Casperson welcomed officials from the city of Escanaba to the Michigan Capitol on Thursday as the city makes its case in the Michigan Supreme Court against the so-called “dark store” loophole.

“It is a matter of fundamental fairness that big box stores are treated the same as small, locally owned stores,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “It was an honor to welcome Mayor Tall and all the officials from Escanaba to the Capitol and recognize them during Senate session. I applaud them for their efforts in prosecuting this case to end the dark store loophole and ensure fairness for all local property owners, and I am hopeful the Supreme Court will affirm the Michigan Court of Appeals decision that saw the inequity of this practice.”

Escanaba is challenging the ability of a home improvement chain store to use a “dark store” loophole to reduce its property taxes. The loophole enables big box stores to appeal their property tax assessment to the Michigan Tax Tribunal that can then use the value of nearby vacant stores to determine the assessment, which adversely and unfairly impacts revenues to fund schools, libraries, programs for seniors, public safety departments and public transit agencies.

Casperson has introduced legislation to address the loophole issue.

Senate Bill 578 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.


Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorTomCasperson.com/Photowire.


Casperson, Schuitmaker introduce legislation supporting Second Amendment, foster parent rights

LANSING, Mich. — State Sens. Tom Casperson and Tonya Schuitmaker on Wednesday introduced legislation that would preserve the Second Amendment rights of foster parents.

A policy change by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that took effect in 2015 requires all firearms legally possessed in foster homes be locked in a gun case or stored with a trigger-lock separate from ammunition.

Under this policy, firearms cannot be carried in a holster, even by someone who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, or stored in any other safe manner.

“Adopting a child does not require you to give up your constitutionally guaranteed rights,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Thousands of families across Michigan have figured out how to safely possess firearms in the privacy of their own homes without the government telling them how to do it.”

Senate Bill 527 stemmed from a situation in Casperson’s district in which a grandfather from Ontonagon was told he would have to forego his Second Amendment rights to foster his grandchild.

“This man is a veteran of the U.S. Marines and legally holds a concealed pistol license in the state of Michigan,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “The department has no authority to force someone to give up their constitutional rights.”

Both legislators pointed out that a very large percentage of Michigan’s law-abiding citizens carry or otherwise safely store firearms within their homes for self-defense.

“A gun that is locked up without ammunition does no good if someone breaks into the home,” Schuitmaker said. “The department is essentially telling residents that they can’t be trusted and they need the government to watch over them.”

Casperson added that Michigan should be doing more to assist parents looking to adopt, not asking them to forego their rights as Americans.

“Government officials are telling a law-abiding citizen that he needs to forego some of his constitutional rights in order to care for a family member, and if he doesn’t, the child will be removed from his custody. This is absolutely insane,” Casperson said.

“We should be encouraging people to adopt and give children a stable home. Telling them they have to give up rights in order to do so puts one more unnecessary roadblock in the way, hurts families and is blatantly unconstitutional.”

SB 527 would codify in state statute the rights of lawful gun owners to possess their firearms in a foster home. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services.


Casperson welcomes Vietnam veteran to Senate’s Memorial Day service

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tom Casperson welcomed Roy and Julie Hinkson of Manistique to the state Capitol on Thursday for the Michigan Senate’s 23rd Annual Memorial Day Service, which honored Michigan’s fallen soldiers.

Roy Hinkson served in the U.S. Army. While serving in Vietnam, Roy was shot 13 times and was awarded a Purple Heart.

“I was proud have Roy and Julie Hinkson as my guests for the Senate’s solemn tribute to our fallen heroes,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “We must never forget those who gave their lives defending liberty, and we owe it to them to celebrate everything they fought and died to protect. That is why having the Hinksons with me for the ceremony was so poignant. Roy served our nation and was wounded in the Vietnam War and he is still fighting for personal liberty today.”

Earlier this year, Roy and Julie Hinkson told the Senate Natural Resources Committee about an issue related to their private property surrounded by the Hiawatha National Forest. The land has been home to his family’s deer camp for more than 60 years.

In 1976, the original cabin was destroyed by fire. At that time, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) suggested that the new cabin be built 25 feet east of the original cabin to avoid any boundary encroachment concerns. Despite taking the USFS up on that suggestion, Hickson recently learned that the cabin is situated on federal forestland.

“However, Roy didn’t learn about the encroachment by way of a phone call, letter or the like, but rather when the forest service, with assistance from other government agencies, stormed the camp with guns drawn,” Casperson said. “If that was not troubling enough, rather than simply asking him to work with the very agency that originally suggested where the cabin should be located, the forest service issued him two criminal citations for the claimed encroachment, which he has spent significant time and money fighting.

“The unwarranted treatment of an honorable veteran and private property owner is extremely troubling. Roy Hinkson’s situation has adversely impacted him, his family and a community that cares about him. Their battle is about our rights and freedom from an overzealous government.”


Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the above image or by visiting www.SenatorTomCasperson.com/Photowire.

Sen. Casperson issues statement on the death of Rep. Kivela

LANSING, Mich. — In response to news of the tragic death of Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, issued the following statement:

“Like many in the U.P., I lost a dear friend with the tragic passing of John Kivela. My staff and I feel profound sadness over John’s death, as he was like a part of our office through the kindness and support he offered to us.

“I know we join many, not only in the U.P, but across the state in holding John’s wife Sandy and their two children in our prayers over their loss.

“I choose to remember John through the many happy times we shared, through the friendship he offered, and through assistance he provided to me and to so many of the constituents we shared. I also will remember the many legislative successes that were the result of the U.P. legislators coming together and focusing on the issue and not the ideology.

“It is part of John’s legacy and one we would do well to remember. Frankly, the working relationship that the U.P. delegation formed was the result of John’s outreach and personality. I will forever remember our first spaghetti dinner together — while the homemade dinner John prepared for us was delicious, it was laughs and the personal stories we shared that birthed the start of a friendship that I am so grateful to have enjoyed. He is already missed and he will always remain in our hearts.”


Senate adopts resolution for ORV Rider Recognition Day

Sen. Tom Casperson

Sen. Tom Casperson

LANSING, Mich. – The state Senate recently adopted a resolution to establish June 10, 2017 as ORV Rider Recognition Day in Michigan.

“The Senate recognizes the importance of off-road recreation to our state, and the large economic impact it has,” said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, who sponsored Senate Resolution 34. “We hope that ORV Rider Recognition Day will help increase awareness for safety, the economic value that motorized sports have on our state and local communities and environmentally friendly practices for ORV riders, as well.”

Michigan is often recognized as the trail state, and features 3,700 miles of designated off-road vehicle trails that are used by more than 220,000 licensed riders. Casperson noted that many of the licensed trail users and local trail sponsors also volunteer to maintain the state’s vast trail network.

ORV Rider Recognition Day is in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources’ ORV Free Riding Weekend, which is June 10-11.


Natural Resources Committee hears testimony of U.P. resident in dispute with U.S. Forest Service

Sen. Tom Casperson

Sen. Tom Casperson

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday took testimony from concerned residents regarding the policies and actions of the U.S. Forest Service relating to the Hiawatha National Forest.

“I often hear about natural resource and land use issues from constituents who share concerns about policies the U.S. Forest Service has implemented or proposed,” said the committee chairman, Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.

Casperson invited Manistique residents Roy and Julie Hinkson to offer testimony before the committee on an issue related to their private property.

Roy Hinkson owns land that is surrounded by the Hiawatha National Forest, upon which his family’s deer camp has been located for more than 60 years. As far as Hinkson and his family knew, the camp structures were on his 40 acres of land. Unbeknownst to him, the USFS resurveyed the property and determined that the Hinkson camp structures were partially on federal forest land.

On opening day of Michigan’s 2014 firearm deer season, Hinkson testified he was approached, unannounced, by USFS and Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials about the location of his camp. Casperson’s constituent was informed his camp was on forest land and that it must be removed and the land restored, at his expense. Hinkson received two citations and faces criminal charges for the claimed encroachment which he has spent significant time and money fighting. Federal court proceedings are scheduled again on March 20 and 21. Additionally, his personal information, including social security number, was released publicly in a Freedom of Information Act request, causing him more expense, headache and stress.

Hinkson’s interaction has led to a costly multi-year dispute that Casperson said is unnecessary.

“This is an overzealous and unwarranted treatment of a very honorable private property owner whose land borders the Hiawatha National Forest,” Casperson said in a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary-elect Sonny Perdue. “Roy Hinkson’s situation is extremely troubling, and it has adversely impacted him, his family and a community that cares about him.

“I am requesting U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary-elect Sonny Perdue or others in the agency to review this matter quickly and expeditiously and to work with Mr. Hinkson on a reasonable resolution as this is a situation that did not need to be taken to the point of criminal prosecution.”

More information is available in the letter Casperson submitted to the USDA, which may be accessed by clicking this link.


U.P. legislators come together to pass bill easing regulatory burdens on small copper mines

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would ease burdens on small mining companies to harvest native Michigan copper, while maintaining environmental protections.

Although Senate Bill 129 was sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, it was a bipartisan, bicameral effort from the entire Upper Peninsula legislative delegation that helped ensure the bill’s swift passage in the Senate.

The bill proposes to make many technical changes to existing law to provide a streamlined regulatory program for smaller native copper mining operations in the state. The bill addresses renewed interest in copper mining in the western U.P., brought on in part by increasing global demand for copper.

Casperson and state Reps. John Kivela, Scott Dianda, and Beau LaFave commented on the bill’s approval:

“This bill will benefit our entire state economically, but it will provide an especially welcomed and undeniable boost to the economy of the western U.P., particularly to Ontonagon County, which is where investors are preparing to site the first mine permitted by this legislation,” Casperson said. “While the first mine may ‘only’ bring with it five jobs to that county, those five jobs would comparatively be equivalent to 2,200 jobs in the city of Detroit — imagine the fanfare that such news would receive with an enormous economic benefit to Detroit. Consequently, this news should be equally embraced and celebrated for its economic significance to the western U.P., which is starved for new, well-paying jobs.”

“It was through thorough debate and detailed negotiations that I am happy to now support the legislative compromises included in SB 129,” said Kivela, D-Marquette. “This legislation now incorporates language that alleviates several environmental and local control concerns that were discussed during the legislation process. Senate Bill 129 now creates the proper framework for small native copper mines to operate responsibly within our region and to create much-needed jobs in the Western Upper Peninsula.”

“By allowing small native copper mines to operate, Senate Bill 129 is an important investment in western U.P. counties and will show other businesses that our communities are a good place to locate and grow,” said Dianda, D-Calumet. “These small mines will be a huge boost to our local economies. The jobs they create will help fund local government services and our schools and will help our local businesses thrive.”

“Technological advances have made it possible to explore and extract native copper from places that have long been considered inaccessible,” said LaFave, R-Iron Mountain. “The Upper Peninsula has historically been a leader in copper mining, and it can be once again. With this bill, we have an opportunity to harness Michigan’s essential natural resources to reignite an important part of our economy and create jobs while, importantly, ensuring environmental protections.”

Metal mines have been regulated in Michigan since 1970, with the Reclamation of Mining Lands Act, which was recodified in 1994 as part of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

To address environmental concerns over larger-scale mines, the act requires mines to provide detailed and comprehensive baseline analyses, environmental impact assessments, and alternative evaluations. They must implement extensive measures to prevent and control acid mine drainage, long-term water monitoring, contingency plans, and high levels of financial assurances.

SB 129 would establish regulatory controls specifically for small native copper mines, which do not pose the same risks as large scale mines, but are currently overseen by the same strict standards. The bill would help small native copper mines overcome burdensome regulatory hurdles, while maintaining necessary environmental protections and public health and safety.

If enacted, Michigan would join four other states that have passed similar laws for small mining operations.