Zorn applauds Kiwanis Trail project in trust fund recommendations

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn applauded the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board for including the Kiwanis Trail project in Lenawee County in its list of development recommendations for 2018.

“The expansion of the Kiwanis Trail would provide a wonderful opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to spend time biking, running or even cross-country skiing with their families on over 10 miles of trail between the two largest cities in Lenawee County,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The Natural Resources Trust Fund was created four decades ago to invest constitutionally restricted resources into improving the public’s access to outstanding recreational opportunities in our state, and that is exactly what the Kiwanis Trail project will do.”

The plan approved by the NRTF board includes $300,000 toward the Kiwanis Trail project, which will connect Adrian and Tecumseh with 7.7 miles of paved, dedicated trail thus providing more than 10 contiguous miles of paved trail to area residents.

The trail parallels the River Raisin and intersects at many points, providing a variety of recreation opportunities in addition to use of the trail by walkers, runners, bicyclists, in-line skaters and skateboarders, snow-shoe and cross-country ski enthusiasts.

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The fund’s dollars are constitutionally restricted to recreation improvements and land acquisitions.

The NRTF board’s recommendations for projects in 2018 will now head to the Legislature for review as part of the budget process.

“I strongly support this project and look forward to approving these restricted funds next year to enhance the quality of life in Michigan for generations to come,” said Zorn.

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Zorn’s opioid abuse prevention bill heading to governor

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn to help combat the state’s growing opioid addiction epidemic is on its way to the governor to be signed.

“The abuse of prescription and illegal opioids is the deadliest drug epidemic in American history, and we have seen the terrible impacts throughout the state and here in our local communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We must address the supply of these medications if we are serious about ending an opioid addiction epidemic that kills thousands of Michigan residents every year and it is getting worse.”

Senate Bill 47 would mandate more use by prescribers and dispensers of the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), a state-run program that tracks patients and prescribers for over-supply of Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances.

Earlier this year, the state announced that it will fund a full integration of MAPS into Michigan health systems, physician groups and pharmacies that apply.

“While we stop abusers from taking advantage of the system to get excessive amounts of dangerously addictive drugs, we must also ensure continued access to pain medications for patients who truly need them,” Zorn said. “It is critical that doctors have a quick and accurate prescription database to check a patient’s history. My bill will help doctors better recognize potential addiction and stop doctor shopping that leads to addiction.”

Mark Cochran, who co-chaired the Medical Work Group as part of Monroe County’s Call to Action to Reduce Prescription Drug and Heroin Addiction, supported the bill.

“Senator Zorn has long been a steadfast partner in our efforts to prevent diversion, and we applaud his work on bringing this crucial legislation to passage. Now that Michigan has a modern prescription drug monitoring system, its usefulness and relevance is only as good as the accuracy and completeness of a patient’s history,” Cochran said. “Making sure all prescribers are inputting information into the system is a positive step forward in preventing the over-prescription of opioids. Our work is certainly not done, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with our legislators to attack this problem from all sides.”

April Demers, chief operating officer of the Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority, thanked Zorn for his efforts.

“As communities throughout the state of Michigan continue to work together to address the opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic, we are thankful for the hard work of Senator Dale Zorn in championing legislation to enhance the utilization of our prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP),” said Demers. “PDMPs are a critical tool in the fight that we face against the abuse and diversion of prescription medications. A recent study by Vanderbilt University reports that the implementation of state-level PDMPs is associated with preventing approximately one opioid-related overdose death every two hours on average nationwide. This legislation is a significant win in the fight against the opioid epidemic, and on the behalf of prevention initiatives across Michigan, we express our gratitude.”

Zorn’s bill is part of a multi-bill package to help curtail the rising opioid abuse epidemic.

“Opioid abuse is a complex problem,” Zorn said. “This is a common-sense, grassroots approach to a comprehensive solution to protect our communities, save lives and maintain access to necessary pain medications.”

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Zorn bills to restore sales tax exemption for dental devices sent to the governor

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to eliminate the sales and use taxes on dental bridges, crowns, dentures and other prosthetics is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed.

“Frustration with the ever-increasing cost of health care is one of the most common things I hear about when meeting people throughout Monroe and Lenawee counties,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As we do what we can to make health care and dental care as affordable as possible for Michigan families, it doesn’t make any sense to start taxing dental products that greatly improve the health of hundreds of people every year.

“This legislation will help control costs for residents who need dental prosthetics by clarifying that these products were never supposed to be taxed and helping ensure that they will not be taxed in the future.”

Since a Department of Treasury opinion letter in 1985, Michigan had exempted dental prosthetics from the state’s sales tax. Many Michigan tax laws were rewritten in 2004 to reduce the burden of compliance and improve tax administration.

Citing language in the 2004 rewrite, the Department of Treasury recently decided that dental prosthetics are not exempt and made an administrative decision to start charging sales tax on the products beginning July 1.

Senate Bills 566 and 567 and House Bills 5164 and 5173 would restore the sales and use tax exemptions for dental prosthetics. The savings is estimated to be roughly $10 million per year.

“These products were exempt from Michigan’s sales tax for more than three decades, until the state Department of Treasury arbitrarily started applying the tax to dental prosthetics,” Zorn said. “I thank my colleagues for supporting my bills to restore this exemption. I look forward to seeing the governor sign the measures and help curb unnecessary cost hikes for dental care.”

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Senate approves Zorn bill enhancing ‘move over’ law

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation that would require drivers to slow down and move over when approaching a vehicle with amber flashing lights, such as a utility vehicle or tow truck.

“The goal of this reform is to increase safety and save lives,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Stopping on the side of a road or highway and getting out of a vehicle is dangerous and can be deadly. That is why Michigan already requires drivers to take safety precautions in construction areas and when passing a stopped police car or ambulance with their lights on.

“This bill would force drivers to take the same care around vehicles with amber flashing lights.”

Drivers in Michigan are currently required to move over a lane to the left if there is a stationary authorized emergency vehicle with flashing red, blue or white lights on the side of the road. If the road does not have a passing lane, or if moving over is impossible, then a driver shall pass with due care and caution at a reduced and safe speed. Violators can face up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.

Senate Bill 477 would add vehicles with flashing amber lights to the current law and require drivers to slow down by a least 10 miles per hour when approaching and passing a stopped emergency vehicle.

Zorn said that in January a tow truck driver on I-94 near Ypsilanti was hit by a van while assisting a disabled vehicle. The tow truck was parked on the shoulder with its amber emergency lights on.

“Tow truck drivers should not have to risk serious injury or death when they are helping a stranded motorist on a highway,” Zorn said. “With this bill, Michigan will be sending a message to all drivers that if they see a vehicle ahead with flashing lights — whether it’s a police car, fire truck or tow truck — slow down and, if possible, move over.”

SB 477 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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House panel OKs Zorn’s border community economic development bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The House Commerce and Trade Committee on Tuesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help attract new business investment to the state’s border communities.

“Those of us who live and work along state borders know our communities are interconnected with our neighbors to the south, with many people living in Michigan and working in Ohio and vice versa,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The goal of this reform is to help Michigan’s border communities attract investment and assist expansion of current businesses in our state when some employees live across the border.”

Michigan provides grants, loans and other economic assistance to qualified businesses that make investments in Michigan or provide “qualified new jobs” in the state. Currently, a “qualified new job” means a job performed by an individual who is a Michigan resident.

As approved by the House committee, Senate Bill 40 would expand the “qualified new job” definition to include every job at a business project located in Michigan, as long as the business certified in writing at the time of disbursement that at least 50 percent of its employees are Michigan residents.

“The current law puts our communities at a disadvantage, because businesses looking to invest here cannot guarantee that they will be able to fulfill the current ‘qualified new jobs’ requirement with Michigan residents, and they cannot count the employees they might bring into the state,” Zorn said. “This legislation will give our communities an equal opportunity to compete for jobs and encourage businesses that want to create jobs — by building new facilities or expanding their operations — to do so here in Michigan instead of across the border.”

SB 40 now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn applauds state loans for wastewater treatment improvements

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Monday applauded the approval of state low-interest loans to Tecumseh and Hudson to help make needed sewer and wastewater treatment improvements.

“Every Michigan family deserves access to clean and safe drinking water,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “To protect our water resources and the health of our residents, it is critical that we continue to help communities invest in important public infrastructure.

“I applaud the Tecumseh and Hudson community leaders for working with the state to secure the necessary funds to make these key infrastructure improvements.”

The city of Hudson recently received Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approval of a $5.2 million loan from the State Revolving Fund (SRF) for improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and collection system to address high influent flows. Part of the funds being made available to Hudson are in the form of loan principal forgiveness totaling $150,000.

The DEQ also recently approved a loan of more than $1.5 million from the SRF to the city of Tecumseh for the rehabilitation of the city’s sanitary sewer and the County Club Pump Station. Funds will also help replace a sludge pump at the wastewater treatment plant.

Michigan’s Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, better known as the State Revolving Fund, provides low-interest loans to local municipalities for construction of water pollution control facilities, such as sewage or stormwater treatment projects.

The fund was established in accordance with federal Clean Water Act guidelines, using federal capitalization grants and the required state matching funds.

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Senate approves Zorn local public servants bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn to help local communities fill first responder and public safety positions.

“This reform is about allowing additional local public servants to help save lives in their communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Many small, rural townships in Michigan faced decreasing numbers of candidates for volunteer firefighters or EMTs in the 1990s. The problem was made worse because the townships could not consider board members who were trained and willing to serve.

“To help protect the public, the law was changed to provide flexibility to townships with fewer than 25,000 people. Unfortunately, local governments just above that limit are now having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers.”

Senate Bill 605 would raise the population threshold for the Contracts of Public Servants with Public Entities Act from 25,000 to 40,000. Currently under the act, public servants of a township, city, village or county with a population of 25,000 or more cannot serve as emergency medical services personnel or a firefighter for that community.

The bill would enable local governments with up to 40,000 residents to have board or council members serve the local government as EMTs, firefighters, police officers or public safety officers.

SB 605 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Zorn, Dundee students to honor Vietnam veterans

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn and Dundee Middle School students will be honoring Vietnam veterans on Friday during the school’s Veterans Day celebration.

Who:
Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida;
Dundee Middle School students; and
Area veterans.

What:
A Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning presentation by Zorn and Dundee Middle School students.

When:
Friday, Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.

Where:
Dundee Middle School gymnasium
420 Ypsilanti Road
Dundee, MI 48131

Briefing:
In commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the Vietnam War, Zorn has hosted several ceremonies to give long-overdue recognition to the Vietnam War era veterans and their families.

A Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin will be provided to any U.S. veteran who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

The ceremony is made possible by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Information regarding the commemoration can be found at www.VietnamWar50th.com.

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Zorn announces November office hours

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn has announced that he will conduct district office hours in Tecumseh and Dundee this month.

Office hours are open to residents to express their opinions or concerns about state government or to request assistance with a state issue.

The first office hour will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Tecumseh District Library, 215 N. Ottawa St. in Tecumseh.

The second office hour will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Cool Beanz Coffee, 112 Park Place, in Dundee.

“I am holding these local office hours in order to help provide residents a convenient opportunity to meet with me in person,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “My aim is to provide the best service possible for the hardworking people of the 17th District. I look forward to continuing a regular series of meetings throughout the district and hearing directly from constituents in one-on-one discussions.”

To respect other patrons of the library and restaurant, no town-hall style discussions will be entertained. No appointment is necessary.

Residents who are unable to attend the office hours may contact Zorn’s office at (517) 373-3543 or via e-mail at SenDZorn@senate.michigan.gov.

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Zorn bill gives flexibility to more local governments

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Local Government Committee on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn to help local communities to fill first responder and public safety positions.

“In the 1990s, many rural townships faced decreasing numbers of candidates for volunteer firefighters or EMTs, and it was only made worse by having to take board members — who were trained and willing to serve — out of consideration,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The law was changed in 1992 to provide flexibility to townships under 25,000 people. Unfortunately, local governments just above that limit are having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers.

“This reform will allow additional local public servants to help save lives in their communities.”

Senate Bill 605 would raise the population threshold for the Contracts of Public Servants with Public Entities Act from 25,000 to 40,000. Currently under the act, public servants of a township, city, village or county with a population of 25,000 or more cannot serve as emergency medical services personnel or a firefighter for that community.

As approved by the committee, SB 605 would enable local governments with up to 40,000 residents have board or council members serve the local government as EMTs, firefighters, police officers or public safety officers.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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