State Senate to utilize videoconference for committee testimony on PILT and recreation legislation

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LANSING, Mich.—Legislation impacting communities throughout the Upper Peninsula will be discussed in The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee on Thursday, May 17.

Anyone is welcome to participate in the committee via videoconference from the Ontonagon County Courthouse in Ontonagon, said Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Casperson.

Casperson, R-Escanaba, said the committee agenda will include testimony on Senate Bills 1021 and 1022, sponsored by Casperson and Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, to increase payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) on state-owned land in their boundaries.

“PILT payments are supposed to be made by the state on land it owns, but the state has been late or making reduced payments for several years now.” “With more than two million acres of state-owned land in the Upper Peninsula, this makes the PILT payments extremely important to our communities. The proposed legislation will change the law to ensure payments are made on time and that local units of government receive their fair share.”

The committee will also review SB 1031, which would let local units of government allow motorized and non-motorized recreational activities on locally owned forestland that was deeded to them by the Department of Natural Resources years ago when a great deal of land reverted to the state due to people not being able to pay their taxes. Current law stipulates that only timber management is allowed on the land; otherwise it would revert back to the state.

“This issue was brought to my attention by residents and county officials in Ontonagon County who want to allow recreation in their county forest,” Casperson said. “I appreciate their efforts to promote and expand recreation and tourism opportunities that are so important to our U.P. communities and way of life.”

The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee is scheduled for Thursday, May 17, at 8:30 a.m. in room 210 of the Farnum Building in Lansing, with simultaneous videoconferencing at the Ontonagon County Courthouse, 98th District Court Room, 725 Greenland Road in Ontonagon at 8:30 a.m.