Zorn bill would exempt contact lenses from sales tax

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to eliminate the state sales tax on contact lenses.

“In Michigan, eyeglasses are exempt from the state’s sales tax, but contact lenses are not,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The result is higher costs on Michigan patients who wear contacts. My bill would reduce these costs by treating contact lenses the same as glasses when it comes to Michigan’s sales tax.”

Michigan currently exempts certain devices from the state’s sales and use taxes, including eyeglasses; hearing aids; braces; kidney dialysis and oxygen delivery equipment; canes; walkers; corrective shoes; crutches; and pacemakers.

Senate Bill 44 would add contact lenses to the list of devices exempted from the state sales tax. SB 43, sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, would add the exemption to the state use tax. The savings of the bills is estimated to be more than $12 million per year.

According to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency in 2018, Michigan is one of 23 states that are full members of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, and 15 of those member states have exempted contact lenses from taxation.

“The current process of taxing glasses and contacts differently is burdensome for eye doctors and confusing for patients,” Zorn said. “This commonsense reform would provide clarity for consumers and reduce cost for needed vision care.”

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Zorn reintroduces local public safety and justice bills

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has reintroduced legislation to help local communities fill first responder and public safety positions and to give county prosecutors greater ability to seek justice on behalf of their residents.

“My first bill of this term would allow more local public servants help save lives in their communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “In the 1990s, many small, rural townships in Michigan faced decreasing numbers of candidates for volunteer firefighters or EMTs. The problem was aggravated by the fact that board members — who were trained and willing to serve — could not be considered.

“Although the law was changed in 1992 to provide more flexibility, townships just above the population limit are now having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers to protect the public.”

Senate Bill 19 would enable local governments with up to 40,000 residents to have board or council members serve the local government as EMTs, firefighters, police officers or public safety officers. Currently, public servants of a township, city, village or county with a population of 25,000 or more cannot serve in those roles for that community.

Zorn also reintroduced to bills to allow a prosecutor to bring charges in the drug-overdose death of a resident in the county, even if the illegal drugs were purchased in another county.

“As we continue to battle the growing epidemic of opioid addiction, we need to give prosecutors more tools to punish drug dealers,” Zorn said. “I have worked with the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and law enforcement across the state on this commonsense legislation.”

The bills are the result of a case involving the heroin-overdose death of a man in Monroe County in 2016. The cause of death was toxicity from fentanyl, which is sometimes used by dealers as a cutting agent to make heroin more potent. The dealer was charged in Monroe County with one count of delivery of fentanyl causing death. However, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction because the delivery of the drug occurred in Wayne County.

SBs 20 and 21 would broaden the potential for prosecution of delivery of a controlled substance causing death to three possible venues: The county where the drugs were delivered, the county where the drugs were consumed, or the county where the victim died from using the drugs.

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Zorn introduces Physical Therapy Licensure Compact bill

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to have Michigan join the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact.

“The goals of this initiative are to help better meet the needs of Michigan residents and increase access to physical therapy care — while still protecting patients,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “If Michigan joins the compact, licensed physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in good standing would be able to help patients in other member states without having to go through a lengthy licensure process.”

Senate Bill 22 would enter Michigan into the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact, which gives the option for eligible physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) to obtain a “compact privilege” in other participating states.

To be eligible for the “compact privilege,” the PTs and PTAs must hold a valid, current, and unrestricted license in their home state; have no disciplinary action during the previous two years; and meet any jurisprudence requirements of the other participating states.

“Although 21 states have joined the compact, Michigan would be the first Great Lakes state,” Zorn said. “Ideally, Ohio would need to follow our lead if we join the compact. That would enable Michigan physical therapists to help patients across the border in Ohio and allow physical therapists in Ohio to help patients in Monroe and Lenawee counties.”

Zorn said the compact does not change the scope of practice of PTs and PTAs in any state. Any PT or PTA working in a state under a compact privilege would be required to follow the practice law of that state.

SB 22 has been referred to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee for consideration.

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Sen. Zorn announces committee assignments

LANSING, Mich. — In his second term, Sen. Dale Zorn will continue to lead the Senate Local Government Committee and add new responsibilities of serving on three Senate Appropriations subcommittees.

“I look forward to continuing to put my more than three decades of local government experience to work to help improve our communities, our economy and the lives of Michigan residents,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We achieved much last term to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and I will continue to work with our local leaders to develop innovative solutions to local challenges.”

Zorn will also serve on the committees on Regulatory Reform and Families, Seniors, and Veterans.

In addition to the policy committees, Zorn will serve on the Appropriations subcommittees for Capital Outlay, Transportation, and Universities and Community Colleges.

“The work of these subcommittees will help us fix the roads, support our community colleges and public universities, and invest in needed infrastructure like the new armory in Dundee,” Zorn said. “The committee assignments will enable me to continue to stand up for our veterans, protect our children and seniors, and support our jobs providers.

“It’s time to work together to keep our eight years of positive momentum on track and build a better future for all Michigan residents.”

A full list of Senate committees and their memberships will be available online later this week at http://www.senate.michigan.gov/committee.html.

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Zorn sworn in for second term as 17th District state senator

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, was sworn in for a second term as senator for the 17th District on Wednesday during a ceremony at the state Capitol. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen J. Markman administered the oath of office.

Zorn was joined on the Senate floor by his wife Cindy, son Skylar Lyon, daughter-in-law Dori, and grandchildren Noah, Nathan and Nolan.

“I am deeply honored to continue to serve the great people of Monroe and Lenawee counties as their state senator,” Zorn said. “We have achieved much to improve our state, yet there is still work to do. I look forward to working with new leaders to find common ground and come together to continue Michigan’s comeback.”

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

Video of the ceremony will be available at www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Video.