Governor signs Casperson bill protecting gun owners’ privacy

LANSING, Mich.—Delta County Gun Owners Association President Bob Petersen (left) and Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, look on Tuesday as Gov. Rick Snyder signs Senate Bill 49.

The bill, authored by Sen. Tom Casperson, amends the handgun licensure law to specify that firearms records will be confidential, will not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and cannot be accessed except for certain law enforcement purposes.

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

Peterson said, “Delta County gun owners believe this is sound legislation. It will protect gun owners and ensure abuse of our constitutional rights does not occur. We would like to thank Senator Casperson, Governor Snyder and all the legislators who were involved in this legislation.”

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Casperson stamp sands bill sent to the governor

For Immediate Release
June 17, 2014

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

LANSING, Mich.—Legislation to ensure unreasonable regulations cannot be imposed on properties containing only stamp sands has been sent to the governor.

“The western Upper Peninsula landscape is covered with stamp sands, or crushed rock that is a result of our mining heritage,” said Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While the stamp sands may have some native metals such as copper, they do not need to be regulated as contaminated properties because stamp sands by themselves do not present a public health risk, which has been publicly affirmed by the Department of Environmental Quality.”

Local officials and residents called for this change in the law after having worked for years with various environmental agencies and feeling frustrated that needless bureaucratic regulations could negatively impact private property any time a department chose to pursue the law. 

Under this change in the law, remediation can continue in areas that may contain contamination from other sources such as Torch Lake, and reasonable efforts such as planting vegetation on exposed stamp sands to prevent erosion or blowing sand can be taken. Also, given that stamp sands do contain copper, which can affect organisms when placed in the water, the legislation did not change regulations related to stamp sands’ effects on surface water.

“Necessary regulations will still be in effect for truly contaminated properties,” Casperson said. “However, our UP communities should not be penalized for native substances that are a part of the region and present in nature and which are not hazardous to public health. Instead, we should be able to live with and reuse these substances where it makes sense.”

Senate Bill 872 now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

 

Casperson resolutions oppose EPA’s significant overreach to regulate more waters under proposed rules

LANSING, Mich—Sen. Tom Casperson on Thursday introduced a pair of resolutions to call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) to withdraw their proposed rule expanding the definition of “waters of the United States.”

Citing limits on their authority as previously found by the U.S. Supreme Court on multiple occasions, Casperson, R-Escanaba, introduced the resolutions to defend states’ Tenth Amendment rights and limit another federal power-grab by bureaucrats to significantly expand environmental regulations on areas such as ditches and man-made ponds.

“The EPA continues their disregard for private property and states’ rights by writing rules that go well above and beyond their authority under the Clean Water Act,” said Casperson. “This has become all too common of a practice for departments and agencies, especially on the federal level, as they seek to implement their agendas, which are typically the same as environmental organizations seeking to limit private property rights and use of our natural resources.”

More than 230 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Dr. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, recently sent a letter to the EPA administrator and Army Corps secretary asking them to forego the proposed rules. 

“The EPA’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ proposal represents more regulatory overreach by President Obama that doesn’t do anything to truly protect our water resources. I am working with my colleagues to keep this rule from being implemented, because I don’t want it to hurt the hard-working families and small businesses in Northern Michigan. From farmers to timber companies to home builders—this proposal has wide ranging economic impacts,” said Dr. Benishek. 

“The efforts by Congress to oppose the EPA and Army Corps’ actions on these rules are very important to Michigan as these expanded regulations would unduly burden individuals and businesses across our state,” said Casperson. “Instead of seeking to regulate even more state waters, the EPA should be working with Congress to bring true clarity to the law, not regulate more.”

Senate Resolution 147 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 15 were referred to the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee for further consideration.

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Casperson protects your wood-burning stoves

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2014

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

LANSING, Mich—Sen. Tom Casperson is working to make sure that Michigan residents can keep warm by using wood-burning stoves without more government interference in light of proposed regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Senate Bill 910 aims to prohibit the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from regulating wood-burning stoves through rules and from enforcing any EPA regulation limiting emissions from wood-burning appliances after May 1.

“These proposed 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. and across rural Michigan. The burdensome regulations proposed by the EPA are an overreach of government and need to be stopped to protect our way of life.”

Casperson has also introduced resolutions calling on the EPA to reject the proposed regulations on wood stoves. Congressman Dan Benishek, whose district includes the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan, has announced that he will be a co-sponsor of House Resolution 4407, recently introduced in Washington, that also aims to curtail the EPA’s attempt to further regulate wood-burning heat sources.

“Given the challenges this winter presented with extreme conditions that continue in some parts of the U.P., 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,” said Casperson. 

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.

SB910 was referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources Environment and Great Lakes.

 

Senate approves bills to protect gun owners’ privacy

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Thursday passed legislation to protect gun owners’ privacy by making firearms records confidential.

Under Senate Bills 49, 834 and 881, firearms records would not be subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act and would be available only to law enforcement officials, under certain conditions.

“I introduced Senate Bill 49 last year as there was a real need for protection for the privacy of gun owners,” said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. “This bill ensures that no personal information can be released in Michigan. Disclosing such information is not only a threat to public safety and an invasion of privacy, but it serves no legitimate public service.”

The legislation is a response to the actions of a New York newspaper that last year published the names and personal addresses of gun permit holders in two counties north of New York City.

“Gun ownership information is private and must stay that way,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, sponsor of SB 834. “Newspapers elsewhere have published the names of private gun owners. These bills will prevent that from happening here in Michigan.”

Sen. Goeff Hansen, sponsor of SB 881, said the bills are about safeguarding the rights of Michigan residents.  

“The Second Amendment is integral to our freedom and must be protected,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “This legislation strengthens Michigan law to ensure that all gun owners’ personal information is not jeopardized by those looking to infringe on our basic rights.”

The legislation would ensure that firearms records could only be accessed or disclosed by a peace officer or other authorized individual for the following reasons:

  • The individual whose firearm records are the subject of disclosure has committed an offense with the pistol that violates a state law, a law of another state or a U.S. law;
  • The individual poses a threat to himself or herself or other individuals;
  • The individual’s firearm was used during the commission of an offense that violates a state law, a law of another state or a U.S. law; or
  • To ensure the safety of a peace officer.

A violation of the law would result in a civil infraction and possibly a $500 civil fine.

Dakota Moore, a state liaison with the National Rifle Association, thanked the sponsors of the bills.

“The NRA and its membership applaud the efforts of Senators Casperson, Hansen and Pavlov to ensure that law-abiding gun owners are protected from unwarranted scrutiny and discrimination merely for exercising their fundamental and constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” Moore said.

SBs 49, 834 and 881 have been sent to the Michigan House for further consideration.

Marquette student visits Capitol

For Immediate Release          
April 23, 2014   
                                                           
Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840                                                                         

LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, welcomed Macy Niemisto, runner-up in the “In God We Trust” art contest, to Lansing Tuesday. Macy, from Marquette High School, received her award from Casperson on the Michigan Capitol steps before session.

Editor’s note: For a print-quality version of this and other Casperson photos, click the image or visit www.SenatorTomCasperson.com and click the Photowire link.

Booher, Casperson applaud judge’s ruling that DNR pig ban unconstitutional

LANSING?State Sens. Darwin Booher and Tom Casperson issued statements Monday after a circuit judge ruled that a ban by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on certain breeds of swine is unconstitutional.

“We applaud the ruling by Judge Thomas Solka that confirms what we have thought all along, that the DNR ban on certain breeds of pigs was arbitrary, unreasonable and unconstitutional,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While we appreciate the court’s decision, you don’t need a law degree to know this was just wrong. 

“The DNR issued its Invasive Species Order in December 2010 and one year later issued a Declaratory Ruling outlining which pig characteristics were illegal.  Unfortunately, since that time, our constituents who raised pigs on their farms and private property were forced to either shut down their operations or fight against the state through the courts.”

Booher concurred with Casperson.

“The judge clearly recognized that the small business owners are raising domestic hogs and do not own wild or feral swine,” said Booher, R-Evart. “We congratulate our constituents for winning their day in court and for standing up against the state government’s overreach. 

“The nonsensical attack on small business owners and famers who raise swine hybrids has gone on long enough. We once again call on the DNR director and governor to rescind the Invasive Species Order to help eliminate any confusion about what pigs may be raised on private property in Michigan.”

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Casperson bill aiding victims of natural disasters sent to governor

For Immediate Release
Feb. 13, 2014

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

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.
 

Casperson lauds new road projects in the Upper Peninsula

For Immediate Release:
Dec. 19, 2013

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

CasLANSING, Mich.—Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, joined Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, Thursday in announcing a series of road repair projects throughout the Upper Peninsula, which was part of a statewide initiative announced by legislators and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

The projects are funded by a grant from the Roads and Risk Reserve (RRR) Fund, which was created during the past budget year from general fund savings.

As part of the Fiscal Year 2014 general government budget, the Michigan Legislature created the RRR Fund, providing one-time general fund revenue for infrastructure investment. One-half of the funds, or $121 million, was available for appropriation on Oct. 1, 2013, with Casperson's Senate District realizing nearly $7 million for infrastructure investment in the Upper Peninsula.

“The roads and infrastructure of Michigan are vital in connecting residents as well as businesses,” said Casperson. “I was happy to hear that these funds, which we strategically set aside, are being used for such a good purpose. As is evident by the roads that this money is directed to, there is a real need for this investment as many roads and highways in the Upper Peninsula are in a state of disrepair.”

The Upper Peninsula projects include:

$400,000 to repair Connors Road in Alger County;
$300,000 for Highway 44 in Alger County;
$225,000 for County Road 577 in Menominee County;
$300,000 for County Road 577 in Menominee County;
$775,000 for County Road 569 in Dickinson County;
$800,000 for County Road 498 in Schoolcraft County; and
$3,900,000 for repaving US 2 in Schoolcraft County.

This funding is in addition to $121.3 million from the state general fund used to fully match available federal transportation funds.

While Casperson offered praise for the work MDOT engineers put into identifying and selecting projects, and reaffirmed his commitment to working with Gov. Snyder’s office to identify long-term solutions to improving infrastructure, he singled out the work of the District's 13 Road Commissions. 

“We had 13 road commission agencies come together and selflessly decide on what the priority projects for this funding should be in the Upper Peninsula,” Casperson said. “It is an incredible testament to their professional commitment to serve our transportation needs in the Upper Peninsula in very challenging times, and I am, as each constituent in the 38th District should be, sincerely grateful for their efforts.”

 

Casperson endorses citizen initiative to protect hunting and fishing rights

For Immediate Release
Dec. 17, 2013

Contact: Marty Fittante
517-373-7840

LANSING, Mich.— Sen. Tom Casperson on Monday announced that he has fully endorsed a citizen-led effort to protect the scientific management of fish and wildlife in Michigan. 

“I am proud to put my full support behind this effort led by Michigan residents to ensure that decisions on how best to manage fish and wildlife in Michigan are based on sound science and made by those who will put the interests of our natural resources first,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “I encourage everyone to actively support the effort by signing a petition, asking your friends and family to sign, and volunteering to help so the initiative can be considered by the Legislature.”

The petition for the citizen-initiated law, called the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, is sponsored by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management, a coalition of many conservation organizations and hunting, fishing and trapping groups from across the state of Michigan. The groups include the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance; UP Whitetails, Inc.; UP Whitetails, Inc. of Dickinson County; UP Whitetails, Inc. of Marquette County; Negaunee Rod & Gun Club; and the UP Bear Houndsmen.

“It is time for us all to work together to stop the anti-hunting groups from using their multi-millions gained through deceitful television ads to mislead Michigan residents into approving more anti-hunting referendums,” Casperson said. 

Under the proposed law, the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) may designate game species using sound science; the NRC would have the exclusive authority to issue fisheries orders; and active military members could receive free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. To support the NRC’s ability to manage fisheries, $1 million is appropriated so that the state can conduct rapid response activities necessary to prevent and eliminate aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp.

The petition drive must gather at least 258,000 valid signatures in 180 days to place the law before the Legislature.

Information about signing a petition and volunteering can be found by visiting www.citizenswildlife.com.