Booher and Casperson forestry bills signed into law

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher and Sen. Tom Casperson that makes changes to Michigan’s Commercial Forest (CF) program and the Qualified Forest (QF) program was signed into law by the governor on Tuesday.

“Allowing forestland owners to transfer from the Commercial Forest program to the Qualified Forest program without paying the penalty will help ensure that the private forestland is still actively managed and harvested for timber,” said Booher, R-Evart. “This will be beneficial to local units of government and the state, which will receive more in tax revenue for lands transferred from the Qualified Forest program to the Commercial Forest program.”

In 2013, a legislative package was enacted that made substantial changes to the QF program. It also allowed landowners enrolled in the CF program to transition to the QF program without paying the penalty outlined in statute. The allowance for that penalty-free transition ended a year ago, which resulted in landowners contacting Booher and Casperson asking for the transition period to be extended.

“Since the last legislation was enacted, I have heard from many property owners who are pleased with the Qualified Forest program,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “For the most part, this is a prime example of how state departments can work effectively with the citizens when they choose to. I appreciate the efforts of all involved to better manage private non-industrial forestland.”

Senate Bills 651, 652, and 653 sought to address the issue by:

  • Inserting a deadline of five years (2021) for allowing a CF landowner to transfer to the QF program with no penalty, but stipulating that transfers can only happen without the penalty if the land is enrolled in CF by Sept. 1, 2016 and is owned by the same landowner as of the same date;
  • Developing a Transitional QF program to allow for a transition to present day taxable values over a 5-year window when CF land is transferred to the QF program; and
  • Limiting the number of acres that can be transferred to 160 acres per landowner per township.

For those interested in enrolling in the QF program, the application deadline is Sept. 1 each year. More information is available at www.michigan.gov/qfp, and local conservation districts can also provide information.

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Save the Date: Sens. Kowall and Booher announce West Branch event honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Darwin Booher on Thursday announced that a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony will be held on Friday, July 22 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, is hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. Both Kowall and Booher, R-Evart, will present lapel pins.

The senators encourage all interested residents and veterans to join them to pay tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

Kowall said the lapel-pinning ceremony will be part of Ogemaw Hills Bike Week and is made possible, in part, by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration (VWC). The event will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 22, in the grandstands of the Ogemaw County Fairgrounds, 2300 Rifle River Trail, in West Branch.

The senators will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to any U.S. veteran who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The symbolism attached to the lapel pin is significant, Kowall said.

“The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

The Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense and launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners, such as Kowall, hold events that thank and honor the veterans and their families.

“Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, whether drafted or enlisted, served our country with honor. Tragically, too many returned home with little thanks for their service and not much help transitioning to civilian life,” Kowall said. “This lapel-pinning ceremony is a way to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

Further information about the event can be found at www.OgemawHillsBikeWeek.com, and information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.VietnamWar50th.com.

Kowall has held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.

The senator said he particularly enjoys when veterans gather for a group photo and personally announce their name, branch of service and dates served.