U.P. lawmakers meet with the public for town hall tour

U.P. lawmakers meet with the public for town hall tour

Energy efficiency.  Education.  The meth epidemic.

Those were some of the topics discussed at the town hall meeting for Upper Peninsula legislators Monday at Calumet High School.  State Representative Scott Dianda hosted the event and was joined by State Senator Tom Casperson and State Representatives John Kivela and Ed McBroom.

Dianda said it’s important to have these meetings to bridge the gap between Lansing and the U.P.

“I think it’s the most important because it’s the one-on-one with our constituents. This is where we find out where the problems lie and this is where we find out where the legislation needs to be crafted to help our residents in the U.P.,” he said.

One of the major topics discussed was the concern about the high energy costs in the U.P., which are the highest among the contiguous 48 states.

Senator Casperson said the heightened awareness has become very prevalent in the recent years.

“That is pretty wide-spread right now,” he said.  “People up in the U.P. are starting to really understand the importance of power to us.  We can’t grow.  Our economy has kind of staggered, if you don’t have enough power to put people on the grid and produce and manufacture.”

Another question asked was about the drug problem in the U.P.–specifically with meth.  All four lawmakers unanimously agreed that the issue has become a local epidemic.

“We have to make sure that’s a focus because they’re increasing on the numbers and the public is out there saying they’re seeing it, too.  So, if the general public sees there’s a problem with drugs, there’s a problem with it and we got to be there to take care of those issues,” Dianda said.

Although the legislators don’t agree on much, they know more can get done if they work together on the problems pertaining to the Upper Peninsula.

“What were finding is they can’t use political arguments against any one of us if we’re standing together on the same issues,” Casperson said.  “And it’s kind of a refreshing thing when you get past that political bantering back and forth and you can actually work together.”

The meeting is part of a tour that will include future stops throughout the U.P.  All meetings take place at 6 p.m. EST.

  • Tuesday, July 22 — Newberry (Newberry High School)
  • Wednesday, July 23 — Marquette (Marquette Township Hall)
  • Tuesday, July 29 — Ironwood (Gogebic Community College)
  • Wednesday, July 30 — Iron Mountain (Bay College West)
  • Thursday, July 31 — Escanaba (Escanaba City Commission Chambers)