Casperson bill protects victims of disaster

Legislation recently sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson will prevent residents of the U.P. and the rest of the state who have been the victims of a disaster from being victimized a second time.

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. The bill is currently awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature.

The origin of the bill is the Duck Lake Fire that spread destruction in Luce County in he spring of 2012. It was the second worst fire in the history of the state. When it was over, 136 structures were lost to the wildfire – including homes, cabins, businesses, garages and outbuildings.

When the time came to rebuild, residents who were essentially building the same structure that had been destroyed were faced with the prospect of higher property taxes. Residents were being punished for rebuilding. It was like being victimized twice.

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.

“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,” Casperson said.

We applaud Casperson for spearheading this common sense legislation and look forward to Gov. Snyder’s signature.