Zorn bill would allow schools to use sinking funds to buy buses

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan school districts could use sinking fund revenues to purchase school buses under legislation introduced by Sen. Dale Zorn.

“Michigan is spending more today on K-12 education than ever in state history, yet many schools are having a hard time keeping up with cost increases,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As I am fighting for more School Aid funds to be used in the student foundation allowance, I also want to give our school districts more flexibility in ensuring they have the necessary funding to provide safe transportation for our students.”

A sinking fund is created by a school district through the levying of a tax millage on property in the district. Under current law, the sinking fund revenue may be used for security improvements, to acquire or upgrade technology, for the purchase of land for school buildings, and for the repair of those buildings and grounds.

Senate Bill 384 would expand the use of a sinking fund to allow school districts to use it to purchase school buses. The bill clarifies that the sinking fund revenue could not be used for salary or benefits for school bus drivers or for the costs to service or maintain buses.

“This is all about student safety,” Zorn said. “Thousands of Michigan students take the bus to and from school each day and use them to go on school outings or to a school sport’s game. Their safety on the bus should always be a top priority.

“Older buses are also the most expensive to operate and maintain, the most polluting, have the most outdated safety technology and are the least reliable. Allowing schools to purchase buses with sinking fund revenues would help make busing more efficient and safe, and save millions of dollars from not having to pay bond or loan interest.”

Zorn said that there are approximately 5,000 school buses operating every school day in Michigan that are at least 10 years old, including four buses that are 22 years old.

“People in my communities are asking for the ability to help sustain their schools and a sinking fund decided by a vote of the people will help sustain a school district,” Zorn said. “Newer buses would be safer, less expensive to maintain and enable schools to put more dollars into classrooms instead of being used to keep aging bus fleets on the road. I look forward to having a committee hearing soon on this key reform.”

SB 384 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.


Zorn works to guard against chronic wasting disease

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn announced the passage of legislation to protect Michigan from chronic wasting disease and honor the memory of Rep. John Kivela.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. The disease attacks the brains of infected animals and produces small lesions that result in death. A deer can live with CWD for years and spread it through contact with other animals.

“Chronic wasting disease is an issue that weighs heavy on the minds of sportsmen and women throughout Michigan and is especially important to the hunters in my district,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I sponsored legislation in the Senate to guard against exposing our Michigan deer population to CWD brought in from out-of-state sources. Representative Kivela also understood the impact of this disease on Michigan’s white-tailed deer population and sponsored legislation in the House to address the problem.

“He knew, as I do, the devastating effect this disease can have on our tourism industry, our economy and our rich outdoor tradition. Our joint interest is proof that this issue is on people’s minds from the Upper Peninsula all the way down to Southeast Michigan.”

Zorn sponsored Senate Bill 211, which would prohibit hunters from bringing certain parts of an animal carcass into Michigan from out of state and increase the penalties for violation of the law.

Kivela, D-Marquette, sponsored House Bill 4424, which mirrors Zorn’s bill. The Senate passed HB 4424 on Tuesday in tribute to Kivela, who died earlier in the month.

HB 4424 is specific in its scope and provides exemptions for certain carcass parts that do not pose a risk, including hides; deboned meat, quarters or other parts of the animal that do not have any part of the spinal column or head attached; finished taxidermy products; cleaned teeth; antlers; and antlers attached to a skullcap cleaned of brain and muscle tissue.

“I have traveled around Monroe and Lenawee counties and heard from many concerned citizens who want to see the state increase its efforts to combat CWD. This legislation preserves the health of our wild game population and supports Michigan sportsmen,” Zorn said. “It has been an honor to have worked on this issue with conservationists and to provide language in House Bill 4424 that preserves the legacy of Representative Kivela. Together, we are part of protecting the hunting heritage for all of Michigan.”

A total of 24 states and two Canadian provinces have found CWD in both free-ranging and captive deer, elk and moose. In Michigan, a total of 11 captive and wild deer have tested positive for CWD since 2015.

HB 4424 now heads to the governor for consideration.


**PHOTO ADVISORY** Zorn welcomes Vietnam veteran, Luna Pier mayor to Senate Memorial Day service

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed Vietnam veteran Dave Davison of Luna Pier to the state Capitol on Thursday as his special guest for the Michigan Senate’s 23rd Annual Memorial Day Service, which honored Michigan’s fallen soldiers.

Davison served six years in the U.S. Army, including two years in Vietnam. He is currently the mayor of Luna Pier and the twin brother of Michael Davison, who was Zorn’s guest last year.


Editor’s note: The above photograph of Zorn and Davison is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Zorn’s emergency vehicle lights reform signed

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to allow the use of corner flashing lights on emergency vehicles as an option to rotating or oscillating lights attached to the roof.

“With this reform, local governments throughout Michigan will now be able to use the improved lighting systems that are in use on many of today’s new emergency vehicles,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I thank the governor for signing this common sense reform, which will help improve public safety and reduce the cost of replacing aging vehicles.”

Senate Bill 46, now Public Act 37 of 2017, eliminates the requirement that flashing, rotating or oscillating lights on emergency vehicles be mounted on the roof of the vehicles.

Modern ambulance and rescue vehicles can have blind spots when rotating lights are attached to the roof. For decades, these vehicles have been using corner lights that meet the state’s visual requirements but their use has not been codified in state statute.

The new law allows corner lights to be used on ambulance and rescue vehicles as long as the lights meet the requirements of being visible 500 feet away and from 360 degrees around the vehicle. Roof-mounted rotating lights may continue to be used as long as the requirements are met.

“The fact is that a traditional rotating light bar attached to the roof of an emergency vehicle may not be the safest or most cost-effective option available today,” Zorn said. “On many new rescue and emergency vehicles, the flashing lights are mounted on the corners of the vehicle rather than the roof. Most importantly, these lights are often brighter than traditional roof-mounted lights and still meet the state’s visibility requirements.”


Area school leaders highlight SMCSI program to Michigan Merit Curriculum subcommittee

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday welcomed Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry (SMCSI) Program Manager Dan Rogers and Hudson Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne to the Capitol to highlight the SMCSI to an education subcommittee reviewing the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

“As we look at the MMC to ensure that it is giving all our students an education that best meets their needs and prepares them for success, it is good to hear from leaders who are taking new and innovative approaches,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The center is a wonderful example of area school officials and local business leaders coming together to give students a chance to learn the tools necessary to be successful and obtain a well-paying job in the critical areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

“They saw an increased need for skilled workers in advanced manufacturing and in trades such as welding, and they created a program to offer new education experiences and help bridge the gap for highly skilled workers.”

SMCSI’s objective is to provide opportunities for careers in engineering, sales, manufacturing and advanced manufacturing and to improve student performance and workplace readiness.

The center, housed in a former manufacturing facility in Hudson, provides 21st century education and training to high school students and adults through blended learning with the use of technology.


Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Zorn recognizes Monroe County bicentennial

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday welcomed the Monroe County Bicentennial Alliance to the Capitol to celebrate the upcoming bicentennial of Monroe County.

“I am proud to host the Monroe County Bicentennial Alliance as we recognize a special milestone in the rich history of Monroe County,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “July 14 of this year marks the 200th anniversary of Monroe County and this summer will be full of celebrations and activities across our county.”

The alliance is composed of residents and organizations from across the county who are giving freely and generously of their time to facilitate a year-long celebration of the milestone.

Zorn presented the group with a copy of Senate Resolution 60, which was adopted by the Senate in recognition of the county’s bicentennial.

“Monroe County is rich in history, dating back to the early French settlers and to the War of 1812,” Zorn said. “We are proud to call Monroe County home and honor those who helped make it such a great place to visit or live. Monroe County is the Walleye Capital of the World, is home to more golf courses per capita than anywhere in the nation, and has a rich agriculture heritage where visitors can find the most centennial farms in Michigan.”

SR 60 says that the county of Monroe is Michigan’s second oldest county — created on July 14, 1817 in honor of President James Monroe, the nation’s fifth president. The resolution also states that the county was the first Michigan county to be divided into townships and gives details about each of the 14 townships and the city of Monroe.

“The county of Monroe is endowed with wonderful historical and natural resources, home to innovative industries, and populated with a dedicated citizenry,” Zorn said. “I encourage everyone to come to Monroe County this summer to participate in the celebration and see everything that the county has to offer — from enjoying some of the world’s best fishing to visiting the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, which is the only national park dedicated to telling the story of the War of 1812.”


Editor’s note: The above photo is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Senate approves Zorn bill to fight Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan deer

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to protect Michigan’s deer herds from Chronic Wasting Disease by preventing bringing of whole deer, elk or moose carcasses into the state.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. The disease attacks the brains of infected animals and produces small lesions that result in death. A deer can live with CWD for years and spread it through contact with other animals.

“A healthy deer population is important to both our state’s natural ecosystem and our economy,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We take the threat of CWD extremely seriously, and this legislation is part of an ongoing, statewide effort to do everything possible to fight the spread of this horrible disease in Michigan’s deer herds.”

Senate Bill 211 would create penalties for importing a carcass or parts of a carcass from a deer, elk or moose into Michigan. Offenders would face misdemeanor penalties of up to 90 days in jail, a $500 to $2,000 fine, or both.

Hunters would still be able to bring in finished taxidermy, hides and antlers. In addition, deboned meat, quarters or other parts would be allowed as long as they do not have any part of the spinal column or head attached.

“While this is about empowering Michigan wildlife officials to prevent the spread of the devastating disease in our deer population, it is also about supporting our hunting heritage and the health of the herd,” Zorn said. “Hunting plays a key role in the way of life for many Michigan families, and our state has more than 650,000 deer hunters who contribute more than $2.3 billion to our economy each year.”

A total of 24 states and two Canadian provinces have found CWD in both free-ranging and captive deer, elk and moose. In Michigan, a total of 11 captive and wild deer have tested positive for CWD since 2015.

For more information about CWD in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/cwd.


**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Zorn honors Apprentice of the Year award winner

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, on Tuesday presented a special tribute to Harry Hutchinson of Tecumseh in recognition of being named an IBEW Hour Power Apprentice of the Year. Three out of the last five years a Michigan apprentice has won this prestigious award. Hutchinson was the 2015 award winner.

In addition to excelling in his apprenticeship class and on the job site, Hutchinson brought a passion for community work and charitable giving to International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 252. He was the founder of the Union 4 Life charity, raising over $30,000 for breast cancer research at the University of Michigan Research Center.


Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Sen. Zorn hears update from Gov. Snyder and HHS Secretary Price on opioid epidemic

Senate committee takes up Zorn’s bill aimed at stopping prescription drug abuse

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn was invited by Gov. Rick Snyder to hear an update from U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price on Tuesday regarding the progress at the federal level to combat the growing opioid addiction epidemic.

“Nearly 2,000 people died from drug abuse in 2015 in Michigan, a 13 percent increase from 2014, and Monroe County has been one of the state’s hardest hit communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I look forward to working with the governor and the federal government on doing all we can to address the opioid addiction epidemic plaguing our region, state and entire country.”

Price said the federal government is providing $485 million in funding to support prevention, treatment and recovery services. The funding will be awarded based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for opioid addiction treatment.

After the update, the Senate Health Policy Committee heard testimony on Zorn’s legislation to help prevent prescription drug abuse in Michigan. Senate Bill 47 would eliminate reporting exemptions for controlled substance samples, methadone treatment centers and buprenorphine prescribers.

“It is critical that we have a prescription database that doctors can use to check patient history that is quick, easy to use and accurate,” Zorn said. “We also need to end reporting exemptions that patients are taking advantage of to get their hands on excessive amounts of dangerously addictive drugs.”

Zorn’s bill would require more reporting of controlled substances to the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), which is the prescription monitoring program for the state and tracks patients and prescribers for over-supply of Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances. Two drugs that would be reported under the bill are methadone and buprenorphine.

“MAPS should be an effective tool to stop the practice of patients going to several doctors to get multiple prescriptions,” Zorn said. “This is about protecting our communities and saving lives. Eliminating reporting exemptions in MAPS will help us combat drug abuse by increasing access to important information about who is getting these controlled substances and how often they are getting them.”


Bellino, Zorn introduce bills allowing military spouse teaching certificates

LANSING, Mich. — Teachers married to active duty military personnel stationed in Michigan would be able to immediately teach in the state under legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn and Rep. Joe Bellino.

“Michigan is home to 2,160 active military members, including 1,068 in the U.S. Coast Guard alone,” said Bellino, R-Monroe. “That brings a lot of spouses to the Great Lakes region that had successful professional careers elsewhere. The least we could do, while their military spouses are protecting our state and country, is help them continue their careers in the classroom.”

Senate Bill 365 and House Bill 4582 would create a new path for an active duty military spouse to gain temporary employment as a teacher in Michigan.

“We are increasing attention on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in our schools, because these core areas of study are critical to the future of our state,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Unfortunately, Michigan is facing a shortage of teachers in many of these subjects. Our reforms would enable teachers to come to Michigan with their active-duty spouses and quickly put their skills to work helping us provide every student with an education that prepares them for success.”

The bills would require the Michigan superintendent of public instruction to grant a one-year, temporary teaching certificate to an individual who:
• Is married to a member of the armed forces on active duty in Michigan;
• Holds an equivalent teaching certificate or license issued by another state or the District of Columbia; and
• Shows proof the spouse is assigned to a duty station in Michigan with official active duty orders.

The measures allow for annual one-year renewals, provided the requirements continue to be met.

SB 365 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee, and HB 4582 has been referred to the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.