Governor signs Zorn bill allowing schools to form district libraries

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn that would allow a school district to establish a district library was signed into law on Tuesday, the senator announced.

Zorn’s measure, Senate Bill 108, which is now Public Act 108 of 2015, removes a provision within existing law that has prohibited local governments, including school districts, from forming new district libraries since Jan. 1.

“This is a common sense bill that enables our school districts to create district libraries and, most importantly, provide more educational opportunities for Michigan’s students and residents,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I thank the local community leaders and Representative Sheppard for their help on this important issue, and Governor Snyder for signing my bill.”

Milan Mayor Michael Armitage, who previously voiced his support for Zorn’s bill, said the issue is a particular concern for the city, which straddles the line between Washtenaw and Monroe counties, and a portion of which is in Zorn’s Senate district.

SB 108 was approved unanimously by the Senate in March and by a vote of 109-1 in the Michigan House of Representatives earlier in June.

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Sen. Zorn joins legislative caucus in opposition to Canadian nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron shore

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn announced last week that he is joining with members of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus (GLLC) in opposition to a proposed nuclear waste repository near Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada.

“Nuclear energy is helping us meet our current and future energy demands and creating good jobs,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As the fuel storage at America’s nuclear plants near capacity, we need a safe, permanent and remote waste storage site. It is simply unacceptable to consider dumping millions of cubic feet of radioactive waste near the shore of Lake Huron. The risk of contaminating the world’s largest surface freshwater system is too great.”

Zorn signed on to a GLLC letter directed to President Obama asking that the administration “work cooperatively with the Canadian government on long-term workable solutions to the problem of nuclear waste to ensure that the Great Lakes basin will never become the permanent resting place for such waste.”

The letter also urges the president to take appropriate action under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to prevent the construction of the permanent nuclear waste repository at the Bruce Power nuclear facility in Ontario or any other location in the Great Lakes basin.

This is the latest effort by Zorn to help protect the Great Lakes from nuclear waste. Zorn sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 8, which called on the U.S. government to complete facilities for safely spent nuclear fuel as is already required by a federal law passed in 1982.

“For more than 30 years, the nuclear power industry and its customers have paid the federal government billions of dollars to construct a permanent repository for nuclear waste, yet the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada is still not operational,” Zorn said. “I urge the federal government to take action to stop the irresponsible Canadian dump and then to live up to its own responsibility to safely and permanently store America’s nuclear waste.”

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Sen. Zorn sponsors Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week resolution

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a resolution sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn declaring June 28 – July 4 as Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week.

“Engaging the people is the greatest protection we have against the real threat aquatic invasive species pose to the health of the Great Lakes, Michigan’s inland lakes and our economy,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “At a time when families and tourists are heading out on Michigan’s waters to enjoy boating or to experience some of the world’s greatest fishing, this awareness week is an opportunity to remind everyone of the critical role they can play in the fight against the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.”

Senate Resolution 74 encourages residents to increase their understanding and awareness of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and their ecological and economic impacts, and to take preventative measures to help stop the spread and introduction of the species in Michigan.

“Stopping the invasion of invasive species like Asian carp and controlling the species already here like zebra mussels are both important fights that we cannot afford to lose,” said Zorn, vice-chair of the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee. “These species have the potential to devastate our ecosystems; our fishing, boating and tourism industries; and the livelihoods of thousands of Michigan families.”

SR 74 states that more than 180 nonindigenous AIS have been introduced to the Great Lakes, many of which are displacing native species; disrupting habitats; and degrading natural, managed and agricultural landscapes — resulting in millions of dollars for control efforts each year.

“Michigan has more than 900,000 registered boaters, and they can play a key role in preventing the accidental spreading of invasive species,” Zorn said. “Simply take a few proactive steps, such as washing boats and trailers before leaving access areas and drying boats and equipment for at least five days before launching into a different body of water.”

For more information about AIS, visit www.michigan.gov/AquaticInvasives.

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Zorn bill sent to the governor would allow schools to form district libraries

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn that would allow a school district to establish a district library is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed.

The law allowing local governments, including school districts, to form new district libraries currently prohibits districts from doing so after Jan. 1, 2015. Zorn’s measure, Senate Bill 108, would remove that provision.

“Education is paramount to the future of our state, and local libraries provide more options for students and residents to enjoy reading a book and seek the knowledge they need to succeed,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “There are a number of communities that would like to engage in this process. Working with local leaders and Representative Sheppard on getting this bill to the governor will empower our schools to increase access for residents to a district library.”

The issue is a particular concern for the city of Milan, a portion of which is in Zorn’s Senate district. The city straddles the line between Washtenaw and Monroe counties.

Milan Mayor Michael Armitage previously voiced his support for Zorn’s bill.

SB 108 was approved unanimously by the Senate and 109-1 by the Michigan House of Representatives. It now heads to the governor to be signed.

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Dale Zorn presides over Senate during session

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, presided over the Michigan Senate during session on Tuesday. It was the first time that Zorn had presided during session since he took office as senator for the 17th District in January.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph of Zorn is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at www.SenatorDaleZorn.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.

Zorn introduces firefighter certification bill

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to provide firefighter certification reciprocity with states that have the same certification as Michigan.

“Recruiting and retaining firemen in local fire departments is difficult and expensive,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Michigan currently does not recognize out-of-state firefighter certification, even if it is the same as the certification required by our state. My bill would help local fire authorities staff their departments at appropriate levels and help people returning to Michigan serve as volunteer firefighters or find work as full-time firefighters.”

Senate Bill 372 would require the state fire marshal to extend reciprocity certification to a firefighter from another state who seeks to work as a firefighter in Michigan, as long as the individual was certified in the other state after completing a program that meets or exceeds Michigan’s standards.

“This firefighter reciprocity proposal is the result of working with state licensing officials and the state fire marshal to help our local communities accept out-of-state training that is nationally or internationally accredited,” Zorn said. “This is a simple change that will make a big difference in our small rural communities as well as larger urbanized communities.”

SB 372 has been referred to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee.

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Zorn: Enjoy summer free fishing this weekend

LANSING, Mich. — Free fishing! Sen. Dale Zorn is reminding residents that Michigan’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend is this Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14.

“Monroe County is the Walleye Capital of the World, and this annual celebration offers a great opportunity for Michigan anglers and out-of-state visitors to experience some of the world’s best fishing — free of charge,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I encourage families to take advantage of this summer tradition to pass down the love of fishing to the next generation or to just get away and relax on our wonderful inland and Great Lakes waters.”

During the weekend, all fishing license fees will be waived, but all fishing regulations still apply.

“Fishing has long been one of Michigan’s premier outdoor activities and an important part of our heritage,” said Zorn, vice-chair of the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee. “As part of the weekend, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state, including a family-fun program in Monroe County.”

The “Weekend of Fishing Fun” program is being offered at William C. Sterling State Park on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. The park is located at 2800 State Park Road in Monroe.

On Saturday, visitors will meet at the campground pavilion for a fun, family-friendly fishing derby competition. On Sunday, families can meet at the Midway Pavilion to fish in a relaxed atmosphere. For both events, children age 12 and under should be accompanied by an adult. Limited equipment is provided, so feel free to bring your own gear. A Recreational Passport or daily pass is required for entry to the state park.

For more information on the Summer Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

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Zorn, Sheppard announce bills to stop deep well injection in Monroe County

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn and Rep. Jason Sheppard on Monday announced new legislation designed to stop deep well injection of brine waste products in Monroe County.

“Our main concern with these measures is the protection of Michigan’s water, especially in areas where residents depend on wells for their drinking water,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The uncertainty of karst formations when pressure and heat is applied is concerning to Representative Sheppard and me and should be to any regulatory agency.

“With this legislation, we are taking action to protect the drinking water of the people of Summerfield Township and Monroe County.”

The lawmakers visited Summerfield Township Hall in Petersburg to announce their bills, which will be formally introduced on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 387 and House Bill 4694 would prohibit deep well injection in Monroe County, where karst topography exists and is within 25 miles of a major body of water.

Karst topography is a subsurface landscape formed by soluble rock, such as limestone. These formations allow easy movement of underground fluids, including injection materials that could return to the groundwater level and contaminate drinking water sources.

“Residents of Monroe County have spoken loud and clear about their concerns with the proposed injection well in Summerfield Township,” said Sheppard, R-Temperance. “Senator Zorn and I are pursuing all avenues to make sure all concerns are addressed and that our natural resources, such as groundwater, are safe today and for generations to come.”

Current law requires both a federal and a state permit to inject brine into underground wells. Zorn’s and Sheppard’s bills target state law to effectively rule out siting such a well in these sensitive underground settings.

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**MEDIA ADVISORY** Zorn, Sheppard to announce bills to stop deep well injection in Monroe County

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn and Rep. Jason Sheppard to announce new legislation designed to stop deep well injection of brine waste products in Monroe County.

Who:
Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida;
Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance; and
Concerned citizens.

What:
Press conference to announce new measures that would protect the drinking water of residents of Summerfield Township and Monroe County.

When:
Monday, June 8 at 11 a.m.

Where:
Summerfield Township Hall
26 Saline St.
Petersburg, MI 49270

Brief:
Senate Bill 387 and House Bill 4694 would prohibit deep well injection in Monroe County, where karst topography exists and is within 25 miles of a major body of water.

Karst topography is a subsurface landscape formed by soluble rock, such as limestone. These formations allow easy movement of underground fluids, including injection materials that could return to the groundwater level and contaminate drinking water sources.

Current law requires both a federal and a state permit to inject brine into underground wells. Zorn’s and Sheppard’s bills target state law to effectively rule out siting such a well in these sensitive underground settings.

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Sen. Dale Zorn comments finalized state budget

LANSING, Mich. — After the Michigan Senate finalized a Fiscal Year 2016 budget plan that increases support for education and roads and strengthens the state’s finances, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“We have achieved much to improve our state and energize our economy, and this budget continues that positive momentum while ensuring we live within our means.

“I supported this budget because it makes smart investments in top priorities facing Michigan families and businesses. Most importantly, it increases funding for our local schools and invests an additional $400 million — from existing revenues — into fixing Michigan’s roads.

“With this budget, we are building on our commitment to our schools — increasing support to schools by more than $200 million and paying down more than $1 billion in school retirement costs, which will help schools put additional dollars into the classroom.

“As Michigan’s economy grows and creates jobs, we are increasing support for career and technical education to more than $36 million. This is about investing in career training to help give students and workers the skills necessary to get a well-paying job.

“This fiscally responsible budget represents Michigan values. It reduces the cost of government while supporting vital services, investing in our children, improving government efficiency and continuing the ongoing effort to make Michigan more attractive to tourists and job creators.”

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Senate Bill 133 contains budgets for principal state departments and the Judicial and Legislative branches. It includes a $94 million deposit into the state’s rainy day fund, reduces the state’s film credit, invests $4 million more into the Pure Michigan campaign and puts more resources into local revenue sharing and public safety.

House Bill 4115 is the omnibus budget for K-12 education, state universities and community colleges, totaling $15.8 billion. The bill includes an additional $209 million for schools and a $217 million increase in state contributions — for a total of $994 million — to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS).

The bills now head to the governor to be signed. The FY 2016 budget takes effect on Oct. 1.