Sen. Casperson welcomes U.P. Ambassadors to state Capitol

LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, welcomed the U.P. Ambassadors, with members from Houghton, Marquette, Dickinson and Delta counties, to his Lansing office Tuesday.

The U.P. Ambassadors are a group of business, education, community and government leaders from across the Upper Peninsula with a mission to promote and foster economic vitality and carry the U.P. story to others.


Casperson’s game-changing bill connects Upper, Lower Peninsulas to same electrical grid

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas could soon share the same electrical grid if legislation submitted on Thursday by state Sen. Tom Casperson becomes law.

Senate Bill 282 addresses a growing concern that, with only one major power plant, most U.P. residents rely on electricity sourced from outside the state.

“It is hard to believe — and unacceptable — that in 2015, residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula primarily rely on another state for electricity,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “If we, as one state, want to establish a more independent energy future that is by Michigan and for Michigan, then it only makes sense that our peninsulas be connected by more than just a bridge. In that spirit, just as the state came together to build the Mackinac Bridge, it is time for the state to come together to bridge this energy divide.”

The bill would allow for construction of electric infrastructure to connect the peninsulas to the same electric grid, enabling transmission from one to the other. Beyond integration, this move would ensure affordable and reliable electricity for not only all Michiganders, but especially for the U.P, as well as establish a more unified and independent energy future.

Under the bill, the governor would appoint a state board to select, through a bidding process, a developer to construct a project that meets the policy goals of the legislation. The siting of the project would need to be approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission and undergo analysis by Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization. Project costs would be shared among all Michigan ratepayers within MISO.

“Michiganders are incredibly generous people,” Casperson said. “Just as we all came together to help the city of Detroit in recent years, the Upper Peninsula needs a similar effort. As with Detroit, the state of Michigan cannot reach its full potential without a healthy and prosperous U.P. — one that provides families, small business and industry with affordable and reliable energy so we can all grow and prosper.”

SB 282 is expected to be formally introduced Tuesday, April 21, and will likely be referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Technology.


Governor signs Pavlov, Casperson bills banning use of drones to harass hunters or take game

LANSING—Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Tuesday that outlaws the use of certain unmanned aerial or submersible vehicles to harass or stalk hunters or anglers and ensures that such vehicles can’t be used to take game.

Senate Bills 54 and 55, now Public Acts 12 and 13 of 2015, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Phil Pavlov, were introduced following news articles quoting anti-hunting groups encouraging the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—sometimes called “drones”—to stalk or spy on hunters. In working on the legislation, sportsmen also asked that the bills prohibit the use of UAVs while hunting to comply with what some call “fair chase” policies.

“These laws help protect the integrity of the sport,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Michigan has already banned computer-assisted hunting to help preserve the purity and the challenge of hunting game. These similar laws now ban the use of remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft to locate wildlife in order to shoot and kill them.”

Pavlov said using UAVs in hunting became an issue in Alaska after wildlife officials there learned that a moose was killed by a hunter using such an aircraft. That incident prompted the Alaska Board of Game to unanimously pass a regulation outlawing the practice.

“These measures will help protect the integrity of a tradition that is a way of life for many residents of the Upper Peninsula and the state of Michigan, and I am pleased that they have now been signed into law,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “The goal of these laws is to ensure that fair hunting practices are used, while also making sure that those who routinely attack hunting are not able to harass or attack hunters for no reason other than to promote their own anti-hunting agendas.”

Colorado and Montana recently outlawed the use of UAVs for hunting, while two other states, Idaho and Wisconsin, have existing prohibitions on the use of aircraft to hunt wildlife.

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