Legislature approves Zorn resolution urging safe, permanent nuclear waste storage

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s resolution calling for the completion of federal facilities for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel. The concurrent resolution had previously been approved by the Senate.

“With the approval of this resolution, the Michigan Legislature is sending a united message that the time has come for our leaders in Washington D.C. to live up to their responsibility to open a permanent repository for nuclear waste,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The failure of the federal government to open a storage facility as required by law puts at risk the security of nuclear waste and the safety of our population within our local communities.

“This is especially true for people of Michigan and the Great Lakes basin. We need a permanent and safe storage site that is not on the shores of the world’s largest collection of fresh water.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 8 urges the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to fulfill their obligation to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste.

In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requiring the federal government to follow a strict timeline for building a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants. According to the act, the repository should have started accepting waste by 1998.

In 2002, President Bush and Congress approved Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the site of a safe nuclear waste repository for the U.S.

“The federal government continues to fail our families and electrical ratepayers with their inaction,” Zorn said. “For more than three decades, the nuclear power industry and its customers have paid the federal government billions of dollars to construct a permanent storage repository for high-level nuclear waste, and yet nuclear spent fuel continues to be stored at temporary sites in Michigan.”

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Sen. Zorn announces MDOT grant for road work in Milan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn announced on Thursday that the city of Milan will receive a $375,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation for work on Redman Road.

“I applaud Milan for earning this transportation economic development grant, because it will help improve safety and the local economy,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The most important reason for enhancing and maintaining our roads and bridges is ensuring the safety of drivers and their passengers. However, quality transportation infrastructure is also vital to supporting local businesses and attracting new job providers to Michigan.”

Milan Mayor Michael Armitage said, “I am thrilled that the city of Milan was selected to receive this grant to improve Redman Road. This will allow us to complete much needed improvements to this well-traveled road in our city.”

The Transportation Economic Development Fund Category F grant was awarded to Milan to reconstruct a half-mile of Redman Road from Platt Road to Wabash Road, along with new curb and gutter and drainage improvements.

The $857,781 project will receive $375,000 from the state and $482,781 in matching funds from the city.

The Milan project received one of eight grants that will use $2.8 million in Category F funds for upgrading roads in urban areas to help keep Michigan open for business year-round.

Category F grants are competitive grants intended to preserve and/or expand all-season road networks within the urban areas of rural counties. Eligible applicants for the grants are county, city and village road agencies within counties with populations of 400,000 or less.

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Bipartisan Senate package introduced to help fight overdoses in schools

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich on Wednesday introduced Senate legislation that would allow Michigan school districts to stock naloxone, an antidote used to treat an opioid overdose in an emergency situation.

“I’ve met with local school officials, community hospital leaders and area doctors, and we all understand that the risk of opioid overdoses or deaths in our schools cannot be taken lightly,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Naloxone is proven to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, and this package of bills provide schools the option to have this lifesaving remedy at the ready.”

In June 2015, Gov. Snyder created the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force, a multi-stakeholder group formed to create a comprehensive statewide action plan to address prescription drug and opioid abuse. One of the many recommendations from the task force was to expand access to naloxone.

“Bringing together experts and policymakers from all different backgrounds is critical to turning the tide on this epidemic,” said Ananich, D-Flint, who served on the task force. “A focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement will really make a difference in our communities.”

Senate Bills 805 and 806 would:
• Broaden access to naloxone by allowing school districts to obtain a prescription;
• Require schools that choose to stock naloxone to work with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and school health organizations to implement rules and onsite instruction for those administering it — licensed nurses or school employees;
• Specify that employees administering naloxone are immune from criminal and civil liability if they act in accordance with the rules and are legally allowed to administer the drug; and,
• Require districts that choose to stock naloxone to annually report the number of pupils who were administered the drug to the MDE.

Ananich and Zorn began discussions on ways to prevent opioid abuse when they served together in the Michigan House. Genesee and Monroe counties are among the hardest hit by drug overdoses in the state.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee for consideration.

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Sen. Zorn offers free tax preparation guides

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan residents who are getting ready to file their taxes and want current information can download a free copy of the Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide 2016 by visiting Sen. Dale Zorn’s website.

The guide, which is a reference for the 2015 tax year, is designed to help residents prepare their state tax returns.

“It is important for Michigan families to have reliable, updated information when preparing their annual taxes,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As your state senator, I am proud to offer this useful taxpayer guide free to residents of Monroe and Lenawee counties. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this valuable resource while filling out their state tax forms.”

The booklet contains information on Michigan’s income tax, property taxes and tax credits. Included is a year-long listing of important property tax dates and deadlines as well as copies of the most commonly used tax forms. The guide also features addresses, phone numbers and email information for obtaining state agency tax assistance.

Zorn said that the guide is meant as a helpful resource and not as a substitute for Michigan Department of Treasury tax instruction booklets.

Free copies of the Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide 2016 may be downloaded by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com and clicking the “Publications” link.

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Sen. Dale Zorn comments on governor’s budget plan

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — After listening to Gov. Rick Snyder’s presentation of his proposed Fiscal Year 2017 state budget on Wednesday, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“Governor Snyder’s budget presentation outlined several of his priorities, and I will spend the next few days digging deeper into the entire proposal.

“I agree the state needs to continue to address the tragic Flint water problem. Regardless of who was at fault, the first duty of the state is to protect its citizens, and the people of Flint deserve access to clean water.

“I was pleased to hear the governor’s plan to address the Detroit Public School budget problem does not include using the School Aid Fund that provides foundation grants for each of our public schools in Lenawee and Monroe counties. The mismanagement of Detroit schools for the past several decades should not financially harm the ability of our local schools to educate our kids.

“In past budget years, we budgeted several hundred million dollars per year for additional road funding. The state should continue to put money from the General Fund into road repairs until the new revenue program begins to generate additional funds.”

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Zorn, Senate Republicans seek to cut red tape for schools

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn introduced legislation as part of a package of bills on Tuesday to reduce red tape for Michigan schools.

“By cutting unnecessary reports, this legislative package would enable Michigan schools to focus more time and resources into educating our children,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “While information is important to keeping our schools accountable in how they prepare our students for success, these reforms are about cutting burdensome reports that waste valuable time and money and are either unnecessary or outdated.”

Senate Bills 754-767 would eliminate obsolete and redundant school reports and streamline reporting requirements.

Under current law, intermediate school districts that run career and technical education programs are required to collect program information data and submit it to the state. Zorn’s bill, SB 765, would clarify that only information not already available to the state in other reports would have to be submitted.

Michigan school districts prepare and submit hundreds of reports to state and federal entities. The reports can be time-consuming and tedious to produce, are often redundant or even obsolete by the submission date and there is no published comprehensive index to easily locate all mandated reports.

Other sponsors of the 14-bill package include Sens. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township; Darwin Booher, R-Evart; Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton; Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth; Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy; Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford; Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage; Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City; Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake; and Jim Stamas, R-Midland.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Zorn welcomes Monroe nursing student to Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed Michaela Brownell of Monroe to the Michigan Capitol on Thursday. Brownell is studying nursing at Monroe County Community College and visited the Capitol as part of a class requirement to attend a government meeting.

Editor’s note: A print-quality photograph of Zorn and Brownell 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.

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Sen. Zorn to hold a coffee hour in Blissfield on Feb. 19

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn has announced that he will conduct a district coffee hour in Blissfield on Friday, Feb. 19.

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

The coffee hour will be held from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Cakes n’ Shakes, 133 S. Lane St. in Blissfield.

“I am holding this local coffee hour 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 restaurant, no town-hall style discussions will be entertained. No appointment is necessary.

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

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Zorn supports $30 million for Flint residents’ water bills

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved legislation to provide $30 million to credit Flint residents for drinking-water bills, said Sen. Dale Zorn.

“Our first responsibility as a state is to protect the health and welfare of our people, which is why the Flint water emergency is so disturbing,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I supported quick action on this relief, because no one in good conscience could defend people having to pay for water they cannot drink.”

Senate Bill 136 would provide $30 million of immediate funding for the city of Flint to apply to residents’ water bills retroactively, from April 2014 until state, federal and independent water quality officials certify the water is safe for consumption.

The Senate previously approved $37.3 million in emergency funds to reconnect Flint to Detroit-supplied water; supply free bottled water, filters and testing kits; put nurses in local schools to monitor student health; and provide better nutrition for students and infants.

“This is the next step in doing everything we can to help impacted families in Flint and end this crisis,” Zorn said.

SB 136 has been sent to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. Zorn saves Monroe County judgeship

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday won support in the Senate to save a probate judgeship in Monroe County by amending a bill that would have eliminated the seat.

“Probate judges already handle a tremendous amount of work — overseeing critical cases concerning parental rights, adoptions, mental health and family estates and trusts,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Losing a probate judge would slow down the entire system and put children, families and seniors at risk. The plan was unacceptable. I sponsored the amendment to keep this judge in Monroe County so that we ensure the rights our residents are protected.”

The State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) recommended in 2015 a reduction of nine trial court judgeships and the addition of three, for a net cut of six trial court seats statewide.

Senate Bill 709, as originally written, would have eliminated one of two probate judges in Monroe County. Zorn’s amendment will retain the current service level of the Monroe County courts.

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