Casperson bill aiding victims of natural disasters sent to governor

For Immediate Release
Feb. 13, 2014

Contact: Marty Fittante

LANSING, Mich.—The state Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson to assist those who rebuild structures lost to acts of God or natural disasters.

“Disasters such as the Duck Lake fire in Luce County a few years ago result in widespread devastation that has long-lasting impacts on individuals, families, businesses and communities,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Through no fault of their own, property owners suddenly find themselves homeless or experiencing a great loss of property. The bill is meant as a small step to help them rebuild and carry on with their lives.”

Senate Bill 396 would clarify state law to ensure that those who lose homes or buildings to acts of God, such as wildfires, tornadoes, or floods, would not be subject to higher property taxes when they rebuild a substantially similar structure within three years of the incident. 

In the spring of 2012, 136 structures were lost during the Duck Lake fire, which was the second worst forest fire in the state’s history. Of those structures, 49 were homes, cabins or businesses and 58 were garages or outbuildings. Current law punishes each of the property owners victimized by the fire with a higher property tax bill if they choose to rebuild, even if they choose to rebuild exactly the same structure, which Casperson said is “unjust, unnecessary and unreasonable.”

Local officials and property owners asked Casperson to amend the state law to ensure that it was clear that people who rebuild would not be penalized with higher taxes on the structures they replaced.

SB 396 now awaits the governor’s signature.