Zorn bill seeks to reduce opioid prescription fraud

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday introduced legislation designed to combat opioid prescription fraud by requiring prescriptions for the drugs to be transmitted from the doctor to the pharmacy electronically.

“We must end the illegal supply of these highly addictive drugs if we ever hope to stop the state’s growing opioid abuse problem,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Prescription fraud can happen with altered pill counts, forged signatures and completely stolen prescription pads.

“Requiring the use of electronic prescriptions for these drugs could greatly reduce the access to illegal opioids through fraud, while still providing a safe and efficient way for patients to get needed pain medications.”

Senate Bill 802 would require prescriptions for controlled substances containing opioids or benzodiazepines be electronically transmitted to a pharmacy by Jan. 1, 2020.

To ensure the new requirement is not an unreasonable burden on prescribers, the bill would give the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services the ability to grant a waiver if internet access is an issue.

“By using this available technology, we can help reduce drug diversion, which comes in many forms and is fueling the opioid crisis,” Zorn said. “We have seen the terrible impacts of the opioid epidemic in our state and our local communities. It is time for Michigan to join other states with an e-prescribing requirement for controlled substances to help us stop abusers and drug dealers from using fraudulent prescriptions to get these dangerous drugs.”

Six states have enacted laws requiring some sort of electronic prescription and six other states have legislation pending.

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Zorn applauds Blissfield for winning Main Street photo contest

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday applauded the village of Blissfield for being named a winner of the Michigan Main Street Photo Contest sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Blissfield was the winner of the Active Downtown category, which focused on photos that display the overall vibrancy and activity occurring within Main Street communities. The village’s Main Street program will receive $1,000 for its winning submission.

“Our downtowns represent the heart of our communities and a connection to our past,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As we work to continue to grow our economy, initiatives like the Michigan Main Street Program work with our local communities to revitalize our downtown areas. The winning photo brilliantly captures small-town life in rural Michigan, where generations of Michiganders have opened small businesses or worked on the family farm to feed America.”

The winning picture was taken in August during the village’s annual tractor cruise-in. The event featured a live band while drawing over 90 tractors last year.

“The tractor cruise-in is one of our staple events here in Blissfield,” said Tyler Dotson, Blissfield Downtown Development Authority/economic development director. “It puts a spotlight on our rich agricultural heritage while showcasing our downtown and providing a fun atmosphere for both residents and visitors alike. This is what small-town America is really about.”

The Michigan Main Street Photo Contest was created to allow communities to showcase their downtown revitalization efforts and highlight their accomplishments as Main Street communities. The contest ran from Sept. 11 to Dec. 22, 2017 and had five separate segments, each running for three weeks.

In addition to Blissfield’s winning segment, Active Downtown, each of the Main Street Four Points — Economic Vitality, Organization, Design and Promotion — were contest segments.

Michigan Main Street Program is administered by MEDC and provides technical assistance for communities desiring to develop their own local Main Street program. For more information, visit www.miplace.org/communities/mms.

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Supporting state income tax relief

I recently voted for legislation to preserve the personal exemption on the state income tax and provide additional tax relief for Michigan families. Under Senate Bill 748, the state personal exemption would increase an additional $700 to $5,000 by 2021.

This $200 million tax relief plan is a well-earned break for Michigan residents, who have worked hard to help improve our state and create jobs. As our state becomes more efficient and our economy continues to grow, taxpayers deserve to be able to keep more of their money.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed in December streamlines the exemption process and effectively ends the federal personal exemption. Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, without a revision to state law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim personal exemptions on their state taxes and could face a state tax hike.

I co-sponsored SB 748 to stop an unnecessary tax hike on Michigan taxpayers and to provide them responsible and affordable tax relief. During Senate consideration of the bill, I also voted for an amendment to repeal the 2011 pension tax. Although it was not adopted in a close vote, I will continue efforts to repeal the pension tax in support of our seniors in their retirement.

SB 748 included an amendment that will reimburse the School Aid Fund for revenue loss.

Maintaining a high level of funding for our schools is an important part of this legislation as we continue to strengthen the education of our children, who are the next generation of Michigan workers.

Zorn comments on 2018 State of the State address

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — After listening to Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address on Tuesday night, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“As a small business owner, I applaud the governor for presenting a plan to ensure every resident has the opportunity to share in the state’s success.

“We have accomplished much to improve our state, support our schools and create a positive environment for economic growth. As a result, we have an energized economy that has created 540,000 private-sector jobs during my time in the Legislature and enabled us to repeatedly pass balanced budgets that make smart investments in the top priorities facing Michigan.

“We must continue to increase our commitment to education, especially when it comes to ensuring all Michigan students receive an education that prepares them for success. Employers are looking hard at our workforce before they commit to coming here. As we attract new investment and jobs, career and technical education will play a key role in providing options for students and making sure that our state has the skilled workers to meet the current and future demand for talent.”

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Zorn welcomes Kevin Iott to Michigan Capitol for State of the State address

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed Meridian Mechatronics President Kevin Iott and his wife Laura to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday night. Iott was Zorn’s guest for Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address.

Meridian Mechatronics is based in Deerfield and manufactures commercial ground-based telescopes used by consumers, schools and research institutes. Joining the Iotts with Zorn were Tom and Mary-Louise Allen, Zorn’s wife Cindy and Bruce Diven.

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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/Photowire.

**Media Advisory** Sen. Dale Zorn available for comments following 2018 State of the State address

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn will be available for comments following the governor’s 2018 State of the State address on Tuesday.

Who:
Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida.

What:
Reaction and comments following the governor’s State of the State address.

When:
Immediately following the address, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Where:
By phone or in:
House Appropriations Room
Third floor
State Capitol
Lansing

Brief:
Zorn will be available following the State of the State address for comments on state issues mentioned by the governor in the address.

Please call Paul Egnatuk at (269) 209-3867 to schedule an interview time with the senator.

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Zorn supports tax relief measures

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday voted for several tax relief measures, including legislation to preserve the personal exemption on the state income tax and provide additional tax relief for Michigan families.

“This $200 million tax relief plan is a well-earned break for Michigan families, who have worked hard to help improve our state and create jobs,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As our state becomes more efficient and our economy continues to grow, the taxpayers deserve to be able to keep more of their hard-earned money.”

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed in December streamlines the exemption process and effectively ends the federal personal exemption. Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, without a revision to state law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim personal exemptions on their state taxes.

Senate Bill 748 makes necessary changes to maintain the state personal exemption and also boost the exemption by an additional $700 to $5,000 by 2021. The state personal exemption is currently scheduled to increase from $4,000 to $4,300 over the next three years.

Without SB 748, Michigan taxpayers could face a state income tax hike of nearly $1.5 billion.

“I supported this reform to stop an unnecessary tax hike on Michigan taxpayers and to provide them responsible and affordable tax relief,” said Zorn, who co-sponsored the bill. “During Senate consideration of the bill, I voted for an amendment to repeal the 2011 pension tax. Although it was not adopted in a close vote, I will continue efforts to repeal the pension tax in support of our seniors in their retirement.”

SB 748 included an amendment that will reimburse the School Aid Fund for revenue loss.

“Maintaining a high level of funding for our schools is an important part of this legislation as we continue to strengthen the education of our children, who are the next generation of Michigan workers,” Zorn said.

Zorn also voted on Wednesday to override the governor’s veto of SBs 94 and 95, which would speed up the state’s “sales tax on the difference” reform. Under the bills, the reform to limit Michigan sales and use taxes to only being applied to the difference between the price of a car and the value of a trade-in would be fully implemented in 2028 instead of 2039.

“I do not take overriding the governor lightly, but it was necessary to stand up for taxpayers,” Zorn said. “I supported taking the historic and bipartisan step to help Michigan consumers save millions of dollars in taxes and enable local auto dealers to better compete with dealers across the state line.”

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Continuing Michigan’s positive momentum

Continuing Michigan’s positive momentum

As we look back at the year that was, 2017 was one of great success and hope for our future.

During my seven years in the Legislature, we’ve achieved much to energize our economy and build a better Michigan. Per capita personal income, employment and economic productivity are up. Crime, state debt and the percentage of children in poverty are all down. Michigan has added more than 500,000 private sector jobs, and our state unemployment rate has been cut by more than half.

To help continue that positive momentum, we once again passed a fiscally responsible budget ahead of schedule that makes smart investments in top priorities facing Michigan families and businesses.

Education is key to success, and we passed a 2018 budget that increases support to schools by more than $415 million and pays down more than $1 billion in retirement costs to help put additional dollars into the classroom.

In fact, Michigan is spending more in 2018 on K-12 education than ever in state history. Our $14.6 billion investment includes a foundation allowance increase for every school, a $120 million increase in at-risk funding and $244 million for preschool.

The budget also increases local revenue sharing, funds 150 state police troopers to protect our communities, and boosts transportation funding by more than $214 million — including $130 million more to help fix local roads.

As someone who served 30 years in local government, I strongly believe that we owe it to our local workers and retirees to keep the promises made to them and ensure they receive the retirement benefits they earned.

Unfortunately, local governments in Michigan are $18.8 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations. That is why we passed legislation to increase transparency and ensure local governments understand their financial situation and, if necessary, have a plan to solve their debt problem.

We also updated our state firefighter training standards for the first time in more than 30 years to ensure our firefighters receive the training they need to meet challenges as they protect our families.

Opioid abuse is the deadliest drug epidemic in American history, and we have seen the terrible impacts here in our local communities and throughout the state, where the epidemic is killing thousands of residents every year — more than car accidents.

To combat opioid addiction, we worked together to pass bipartisan legislation to better educate our youth and patients about the dangers of becoming addicted to painkillers and ensure better reporting of prescribed opioids by doctors. I am proud to have introduced Senate Bill 47, now law, to help doctors recognize opioid addiction that could lead to early substance abuse intervention.

It is a common-sense approach to save lives while maintaining access to necessary pain medications.

These are just a few of the accomplishments we made in 2017 to make Michigan a better place and more attractive to tourists, families and job creators. It is an honor to serve you in the state Senate, and I remain committed to working tirelessly to improve our great state.

Sen. Zorn co-sponsors income tax relief bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Dale Zorn has co-sponsored new legislation to preserve the personal exemption on the state income tax and provide additional tax relief for Michigan families.

“Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have worked to improve our state and do my best to ensure Michigan provides essential services to its residents in an effective and efficient manner,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As a result of our efforts, we have a growing economy that is creating jobs. We now have an opportunity to help hardworking Michigan residents by giving them responsible and affordable tax relief.”

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed in December streamlines the exemption process and effectively ends the federal personal exemption. Since the state personal exemption is based on the federal return, without a revision to state law, Michigan taxpayers would no longer be able to claim personal exemptions on their state taxes.

Senate Bill 748 makes necessary changes to maintain the state personal exemption and also boost the exemption by an additional $500 to $4,800 by 2021. The state personal exemption is currently scheduled to increase from $4,000 to $4,300 over the next three years.

Without SB 748, Michigan taxpayers could face a state income tax hike of nearly $1.5 billion.

“I co-sponsored this critical reform to stop an unintended and unnecessary tax hike on state taxpayers and to provide an additional tax break for Michigan families,” Zorn said.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which is expected to hold a public hearing on the measure on Tuesday.

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Zorn welcomes Father Gerard to Capitol for Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed the Rev. Gerard Cupple to the Michigan Capitol on Thursday. Cupple serves as pastor at the St. Gabriel Catholic Parish in Ida and Dundee and delivered the invocation before Senate session.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined Zorn and Cupple for the invocation.

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