Zorn resolution declares July 2-8 as Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan residents are encouraged to observe Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week on July 2-8 under a resolution sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn and adopted by the state Senate.

“As families head out to enjoy boating or experience some of the world’s greatest fishing, this initiative offers them the opportunity to help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “In part, the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate during the awareness week, was about self-determination — and so is the fight against aquatic invasive species.

“These invaders have the potential to devastate our ecosystems; our fishing, boating and tourism industries; and the livelihoods of thousands of Michigan families.”

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 these species in Michigan.

“Raising public awareness and engaging the people about the threat we are facing are the best actions we can take to protect the Great Lakes, our inland waters and our economy,” said Zorn, vice-chairman of the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee. “Just last week, a 28-inch-long silver carp was discovered alive and well only nine miles from Lake Michigan. Stopping the invasion of aquatic species like Asian carp and controlling those already here like zebra mussels are both important fights that we cannot afford to lose.”

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. “We urge boaters to 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/Invasives.

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Sen. Zorn to hold an office hour in Milan on July 10

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn has announced that he will conduct a district office hour in Milan on Monday, July 10.

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

The office hour will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Milan Public Library, 151 Wabash St. in Milan.

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

Residents who are unable to attend the office 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 Crystal Waters project in trust fund bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2017, including the Crystal Waters land acquisition in Monroe County.

“The Crystal Waters project would provide a great public place for our sportsmen and sportswomen to hunt and fish, and it is a positive use of the trust fund’s constitutionally restricted resources,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Crystal Waters would be a place for personal solitude and family enjoyment in Michigan’s great outdoors.

“Although there are currently no inland public-access lakes in Monroe County, the property features seven bodies of water and a boat launch is proposed on an 85-acre lake. It would also offer more than six-and-a-half miles of proposed trails for hiking or just taking a walk.”

Senate Bill 76 authorizes the trust fund to support 27 acquisition projects and 87 development projects. Matching funds of $40.1 million bring the total investment to more than $87.7 million.

It includes $3.5 million to acquire 680 acres for a new state game area in northwest Monroe County. The land would be managed for deer, turkey, small game and waterfowl habitat, along with hunting and fishing opportunities.

“This is a prime example of the trust fund’s 40-year record of preserving our state’s natural resources and improving public access to outstanding recreational opportunities,” said Zorn, vice chair of the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee. “I was proud to support this project, which will help enhance the quality of life in our area for generations to come.”

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.

Since its creation in 1976, the NRTF has awarded more than $1 billion for land acquisition and public outdoor recreation development projects for communities in every county.

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Zorn: 2018 budget supports key Michigan priorities

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn said that the Legislature on Thursday finalized a fiscal year 2018 budget that increases support for education and public safety while strengthening the state’s finances and promoting job creation.

“Since I joined the Legislature, we have completed a balanced and responsible budget — every year — well ahead of the deadline, which gives local governments and schools districts the ability to set their budgets using real numbers rather than ghost numbers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We worked hard to finalize a budget that continues to make smart investments in the top priorities facing Michigan families and businesses while still living within our means. Under this budget, every school in Michigan will see increased funding, and we will be making a substantial investment into fixing our roads.

“In addition to increasing support for K-12 education by more than $415 million, we are once again paying down more than $1 billion in school retirement costs to help put additional resources into the classroom.”

House Bill 4313 is the education budget for K-12 education, state universities and community colleges, totaling $16.6 billion. It invests nearly $14.6 billion in total K-12 education, including an increase of $60 to $120 per student for local schools and an additional $25 for high schoolers.

The bill also features a foundation allowance increase for all schools, a $120 million increase in at-risk funding, funding increases for public universities and community colleges, $9.6 million for career and technical education (CTE) equipment, and a deposit of more than $1.3 billion into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS).

Zorn was successful in securing funding for CTE equipment for the Monroe County Intermediate School District, Ida Public Schools and the Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry in Hudson.

“The skills gap in skilled trades continues to grow and this equipment will help schools to better prepare students for these high paying, high skilled positions,” said Monroe County ISD Superintendent Stephen McNew. “We greatly appreciate this opportunity to teach students with these emerging technologies.”

The Monroe County ISD VR-welding simulators will be used to supplement CTE classes offered at Airport Community Schools, Bedford Public Schools and Monroe Public Schools. There are approximately 300 students enrolled in welding classes at these schools who will benefit from the use of the simulator.

“We appreciate the work Dale did to secure these funds,” said Hudson Area Schools Superintendent Michael Osborn. “He understands the importance of education to economic development and workforce development. We take seriously our role in making a difference in our region and this will go a long way with both kids and adults to impact careers in engineering and manufacturing.”

Ida Public Schools Superintendent Rick Carsten said, “Our staff is absolutely ecstatic about receiving additional CTE funding. The new equipment and technology will make a significant impact on our students and enable them to gain state-of-the-art training for industry.”

House Bill 4323 contains budgets for state departments and the judicial and legislative branches. It would increase local revenue sharing to counties, townships, cities and villages by 1 to 2.2 percent; increase staffing for Michigan’s veterans homes; graduate 150 new state police troopers; and add $11 million to increase skilled trades training funding to $41.9 million.

“Michigan drivers will be glad to hear that we are boosting transportation funding by more than $214 million, including $130 million more to help fix local roads. That includes an additional $2 million for Monroe County and $1 million for Lenawee County, based on population,” Zorn said. “This budget supports our key priorities: supporting vital services, investing in our children and continuing to make Michigan more attractive to tourists and job creators.”

The bills now head to the governor to be signed. The FY 2018 budget takes effect on Oct. 1.

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Senate OKs Zorn’s bill to help prevent opioid abuse

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help combat the state’s growing opioid addiction epidemic.

“Opioid abuse is impacting every community in our state and nation, and Monroe and Lenawee counties have been one of the hardest hit,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This is about taking every step we can to end an opioid addiction epidemic that killed roughly 2,000 Michigan residents in 2015, while also ensuring that patients in severe pain have access to necessary medications.”

Senate Bill 47 would remove existing reporting exemptions and 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.

The state recently announced that it will fund a full integration of MAPS into Michigan health systems, physician groups and pharmacies that apply.

“It is critical that we have a quick and accurate prescription database that doctors can use to check a patient’s history and stop the practice of doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions,” Zorn said. “Abusers are taking advantage of the system to get excessive amounts of dangerously addictive drugs. This legislation would help protect our communities from opioid abuse, save lives and maintain access to pain medications for patients who truly need them.”

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

SBs 166 and 167 would require doctors who prescribe Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances to use MAPS. SB 270 would require doctors prescribing Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances to have a bona fide prescriber-patient relationship with the patient and provide follow-up care to patients receiving such drugs.

SB 273 would require any health care professional who treats a patient for an opioid-related overdose to provide information to the patient regarding substance abuse treatments. SB 274 would limit prescriptions to seven days for acute pain in cases like a sprained ankle or getting wisdom teeth removed.

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Zorn bill adds tow trucks, utility vehicles to ‘move over’ law

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan drivers would be required to slow down and move over when approaching a vehicle with amber flashing lights under legislation introduced on Wednesday by Sen. Dale Zorn.

“This is about helping save lives,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Stopping on the side of a road or highway and getting out of a service vehicle as traffic zips past you 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.

“My bill will require drivers to take the same care around vehicles with amber flashing lights, like tow trucks and utility vehicles.”

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 while helping a stranded motorist on a highway,” Zorn said. “If you see a vehicle ahead with flashing lights — whether it’s a law enforcement, firefighter or tow truck driver — slow down and, if possible, move over.”

SB 477 has been sent to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration.

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Zorn, Kahle applaud $2M for redevelopment project

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn and Rep. Bronna Kahle are applauding a $1 million grant and a $1 million loan being awarded to the city of Tecumseh to address brownfield conditions at the former Tecumseh Products facility.

“The grant and the loan will help the city clean up an old industrial site and put it back to productive use,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “It is outstanding news for the people of Tecumseh and the entire area, as the redevelopment will mean new jobs, more economic opportunities and additional support for local schools and public safety. I applaud the leaders in Tecumseh for working together with state officials and private developers to make this project a reality.”

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Thursday announced the brownfield redevelopment grant and loan, which will pay for a protective vapor barrier under a building that will be reused and for the demolition of another building. Tecumseh Products is cleaning up the contaminated soil and groundwater.

The $25 million project would convert the 55-acre site into a multiuse development, including retail, professional, commercial and park space.

“This funding is great news to help spark redevelopment in Tecumseh,” said Kahle, R-Adrian. “Without funding opportunities like this, old industrial sites like the former Tecumseh Products likely would remain abandoned and never have a chance at rebirth. I look forward to seeing this redevelopment take place bringing investment and jobs to our community.”

The Tecumseh Products site has been an industrial facility since the late 1800s. Prior uses as a foundry, metal and machine shop, and refrigeration equipment manufacturer left the site heavily contaminated.

The DEQ’s Brownfield Redevelopment Program provides grants and loans to local governments for environmental activities on brownfields where redevelopment is proposed. Brownfields are vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination.

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Zorn bill targets opioid drug dealers

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday introduced legislation to increase punishments for drug dealers feeding the state’s growing opioid epidemic.

“We must take a comprehensive approach in the battle against an opioid addiction epidemic that is killing thousands of Michigan residents every year,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This new measure targets supply of these dangerous drugs by giving prosecutors another tool to keep drug dealers out of our communities.”

Under Senate Bill 460, a person who illegally provides a Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance, such as an opioid-based pain medication, that is the cause of serious injury to the user or another person would be guilty of a felony punishable by two years in prison.

A second conviction would result in a punishment of five years in prison, and subsequent convictions would be punished by 10 years in prison. The sentences would be in addition to punishments from other related convictions and would be required to be served consecutively.

“Opioid addiction is a plague impacting every community in our state and nation,” Zorn said. “Dealers are taking advantage of those addicted to these powerful drugs. This legislation would crack down on dealers when their actions cause serious injury to addicts or anyone else.”

Zorn said the bill was the result of discussions on the issue with the Michigan State Police, who are supportive of the measure.

SB 460 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

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**PHOTO & VIDEO ADVISORY** Sen. Zorn welcomes husband and wife pastors to Capitol for Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed the Rev. Kevin Eccles, his wife Melanie and their daughter to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday. Kevin serves as senior pastor at Monroe Free Methodist Church in Monroe and delivered the invocation before Senate session. Melanie serves as the church’s associate pastor and joined her husband and Zorn for the invocation.

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Editor’s note: The photographs are available by clicking on the images or by visiting Zorn’s website at www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Video of Eccles’ invocation is available by clicking here or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Video.

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Senators tour SMCSI program in Hudson

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, and Senate Education Chairman Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, (center right) on Monday toured the Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry (SMCSI) Program in Hudson. The center, housed in a former manufacturing facility, provides 21st century education and training to high school students and adults through blended learning with the use of technology.

Joining Zorn and Pavlov on the tour was Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, who serves as chairman of the Senate subcommittee reviewing the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC). Zorn serves on the subcommittee, which recently heard testimony from SMCSI Program Manager Dan Rogers and Hudson Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne about the program.

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