Zorn applauds MDOT grant for local road work in Hudson

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn announced that the city of Hudson will receive a $190,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for work on North Maple Grove Avenue.

“Improving our transportation infrastructure is vital to supporting local businesses and attracting new job creators,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Many small towns simply don’t have the resources to keep up with deteriorating roads, and this new initiative was created last year to help fund road projects in small communities.

“This grant will help Hudson improve road safety in their community as we continue to work on a long-term road-funding solution.”

Hudson is one of 23 villages and cities in Michigan with populations of less than 10,000 awarded grants — ranging from $24,000 to $250,000 for road resurfacing, culvert replacement, pavement crack sealing and shoulder paving — through the new Community Service Infrastructure Fund (CSIF) program.

According to MDOT, successful projects were selected, in part, because they are paired with planned infrastructure work, coordinated with other road agencies, focused on extending the useful life of the road, and lacked other funding sources.

The $390,000 project in Hudson will receive $190,000 from the state and $200,000 in local matching funds.

The Transportation Economic Development Fund Category B, or the CSIF, provides up to $3 million in grants per year for road improvements in cities and villages with populations of up to 10,000 people. For more information about the program, visit www.Michigan.gov/TEDF.

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Sen. Zorn supports historic auto insurance reform

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Friday voted to support a bill to lower auto insurance rates in Michigan.

“The auto insurance reform is a good step forward that will provide personal injury protection rate reductions from 10% to 100% by capping medical fees, removing rating factors and requiring prompt insurance payments to providers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “While no bill is perfect and knowing that unforeseen consequences may arise that will need to be reexamined, I will continue to work on better access to long-term, post-acute rehabilitation.”

Senate Bill 1 would rein in out-of-control medical costs, cut fraud and conflicts of interest in the auto insurance system, and offer drivers choices in addition to the option of keeping unlimited coverage similar to what is currently required.

Drivers with qualified medical coverage — such as employer health insurance or Medicare — would now be able to fully opt out of personal injury protection coverage if that insurance allows medical coverage for auto-related injuries.

“The key cost savings in this reform addresses the problem of auto insurers paying some hospitals and health care providers 400% more than what health insurers pay — which results in ridiculously higher rates for our auto insurance,” Zorn said. “Bringing these inflated medical costs in line with regular health care, reigning in fraud and reducing lawsuit abuse will achieve significant rate reductions while still protecting Michigan drivers.”

SB 1 would also cut the announced $220 annual Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) fee by 80% for all options other than unlimited coverage. People already receiving care through the MCCA will continue to get lifetime care under their current unlimited benefit policy as promised.

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Zorn welcomes Vietnam War veteran to Senate Memorial Day Service

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed Vietnam War veteran Larry Cymbola to the state Capitol on Thursday as his special guest for the Michigan Senate’s 25th Annual Memorial Day Service, which honored Michigan’s fallen soldiers.

Cymbola is commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6462 in Dundee.

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

Zorn participates in inaugural meeting of new aerospace and defense caucus

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday participated in the first meeting of the new Michigan Legislative Aerospace and Defense Caucus in Lansing.

“The aerospace and defense industries offer tremendous opportunities for growth in our region and throughout the state,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As a member of the MiSTEM Advisory Council, I want to make sure that Michigan students are prepared to succeed in these types of cutting-edge, in-demand careers. I look forward to working with this bipartisan caucus to help expand new investments and jobs in these exciting fields in our state.”

The caucus is co-chaired by Sen. Michael MacDonald, R-Macomb Township, and Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit. Its inaugural meeting included a presentation on the Michigan Launch Initiative (MLI) by IQM Research Institute President and retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Dudzik.

The MLI is a proposed public-private nonprofit entity that would provide a collaborative platform for academia, industry and governmental agencies to provide low Earth orbit and hypersonic launch technology for commercial and defense applications.

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

Zorn supports balanced 2020 budget plan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn this week supported Senate passage of a fiscal year 2020 budget plan that increases funding for roads and schools to record levels while living within the state’s means.

“The Senate’s budget lays out a blueprint on how to make smart investments in top priorities facing Michigan families with existing revenues,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This is a balanced budget that supports our students, fixes our roads, protects our communities and helps attract new investment and jobs.

“Under this budget plan, school funding for next year would increase by almost $400 million, and most schools in Monroe and Lenawee counties would get their largest per-pupil foundation allowance increase in 18 years.”

Senate Bill 146 would invest $15.2 billion in education, representing a more than $2.6 billion increase in state funding for schools since FY 2011.

Under the bill, Michigan schools would see a foundation allowance boost of between $135 and $270 per pupil — which is $107 million more of a foundation allowance increase than the governor’s plan.

The Senate-passed budget includes an additional $51.2 million for constitutional revenue sharing for local governments, graduates 85 new state police troopers, invests $120 million for drinking water protections and fully implements $1.2 billion from the 2015 roads plan a year ahead of schedule — investing an additional $132 million entirely to local roads.

“We have long heard that the Michigan people want more funding put into improving the roads and this budget prioritizes existing tax dollars to do that,” Zorn said. “While talks continue on a long-term road funding solution, we need to work toward enacting a responsible state budget on time that provides the essential services people use every day.”

The Senate budget would also restore the governor’s planned funding cuts to programs that improve access to OB-GYN services in rural areas, strengthen rural hospitals, boost the number of medical residents in underserved areas, and support skilled trades training.

SBs 133-149 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn supports bill to ban dismemberment abortion procedure

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday supported Senate passage of legislation to ban dismemberment abortions in the state.

“All life is worthy of protection, including the unborn, and Michigan has long stood up for human life,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “These measures would prohibit the gruesome practice known as dismemberment abortion — in which a growing baby is killed and removed from the womb in pieces.”

Senate Bills 229 and 230 would expand Michigan’s existing partial-birth abortion ban to stop doctors from the dismemberment abortion procedure.

The bills include an exemption to protect the life of the mother and would punish the person performing the dismemberment abortion, not a woman seeking or obtaining it.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in 2017 the dismemberment procedure accounted for 1,777 abortions reported in Michigan that year, including more than 80 percent of late-term abortions.

“Each aborted baby is an innocent life lost,” Zorn said. “Ending dismemberment abortions in our state would help uphold the value of human life and the values of the Michigan people.”

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

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Zorn measure declares May 12-18 as STEM Awareness Week

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate has adopted Sen. Dale Zorn’s resolution proclaiming May 12-18 as STEM Awareness Week in Michigan.

Senate Resolution 47 says that a globally competitive, knowledge-based economy is a fact for students — now and in the foreseeable future — and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are critical drivers in that economy.

“As we continue to make Michigan the best place for new jobs and opportunities, we must also ensure that we are preparing our students for success in new 21st century careers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Even though STEM occupations are among the highest paying, fastest growing, and most influential in driving economic growth, not enough of our children are going into STEM-related fields.”

Zorn is a member of the MiSTEM Advisory Council, which is dedicated to making Michigan a world leader in STEM education and supports increased access to computer science learning opportunities.

“STEM education is not just teaching children in these important subject areas, it’s also about focusing on a way of learning where students comprehend by doing, thinking critically and providing solutions that drive innovation,” Zorn said. “Through computer science, students can learn new approaches to problem solving and harness technology to be competitive nationally and globally.”

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Zorn bill cuts new fees on interstate tow trucks

LANSING, Mich. — Some trucks involved in interstate towing operations could see their Michigan registration fees reduced under legislation introduced on Thursday by Sen. Dale Zorn.

“This will provide some relief to small business owners who are now being charged an additional $100 on each of their tow trucks after a state reinterpretation of federal law,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This new interpretation results in huge new costs to towing operators paying twice for state and federal registration for the same trucks. The goal is to reduce those costs and enable these towers to continue to service local businesses and our communities.”

In 2005, the federal government enacted the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) system, allowing certain commercial vehicles engaged in interstate (or international) trucking to register through the UCR and pay a single fee as a way of eliminating the need to register with each state that the business may travel through.

At the time, the Michigan Public Service Commission had oversight of the registrations and determined that UCR-registered vehicles did not need to also register and pay an additional fee to the state.

Oversight was transferred to the Michigan State Police in 2011, and the new Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division informed businesses in 2018 that the MPSC had been interpreting the UCR law incorrectly. This year, the division began requiring UCR-registered trucks to also be registered with the state and pay the additional fee.

Senate Bill 309 would reduce the new annual fee paid by trucks engaged in interstate nonconsensual towing operations from $100 per truck to $50 per vehicle.

“We thank Senator Zorn for introducing SB 309 and applaud his efforts to reduce these costly fees,” said Michigan Towing Association President Joel Ballor. “The reduction of fees will benefit small business owners who work across state lines to assist law enforcement 24/7 in keeping our roadways clear and safe.”

The bill has been sent to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for consideration.

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Sen. Zorn supports auto insurance reform

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday voted to support Senate legislation designed to reform auto insurance in Michigan.

“The high cost of auto insurance affects everyone, and we need to make smart reforms that reduce costs without reducing care,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The Senate plan offers us the chance to provide real car insurance rate relief for Michigan drivers, reduce the number of uninsured drivers, and ensure drivers receive emergency medical care if they are in an accident.”

Senate Bill 1 would reign in out-of-control medical costs, cut fraud and conflicts of interest in the auto insurance system, and is expected to reduce the recently announced $220 annual Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) fee by 80%.

People already receiving care through the MCCA will continue to get lifetime care under their current unlimited benefit policy as promised.

“Currently, auto insurers in Michigan pay some hospitals and health care providers 400% more than what health insurers pay, and these inflated costs are passed on to drivers in the form of higher rates,” Zorn said. “Bringing these medical costs in line with regular health care and making other reforms concerning fraud and lawsuit abuse can achieve significant rate reductions while protecting the health and safety of Michigan drivers. The bill now moves on to the House, and I look forward to their input in this process.”

As an example of potential savings, a senior married couple in Monroe who chooses PLPD coverage with Medicare as their primary medical coverage would save approximately 87% under the Senate reform.

A family in Grand Rapids with three cars and four drivers and that chooses full collision coverage and the $50,000 plus additional medical coverage option would save about 17%.

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Zorn, Kahle bills would exempt football press boxes from being heated

LANSING, Mich. — Should football stadium press boxes be required to be heated as “occupied” spaces? Sen. Dale Zorn and Rep. Bronna Kahle say no and have introduced legislation to clarify the law.

Madison School District in Adrian is trying to build a press box this summer as part of a larger upgrade to their football and track facilities. However, state building inspectors are interpreting current mechanical codes to say that the press box is an “occupied space” and must have permanent heating facilities capable of maintaining a minimum room temperature of 68 degrees.

“Our legislation is about inserting some common sense into the current law and ending a ridiculous delay to a local school construction project,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We are hoping for quick passage of this reform to resolve this disagreement and prevent local taxpayer dollars from being wasted.”

Senate Bill 294 and House Bill 4548 would amend Michigan’s construction code to clarify that interior spaces, such as press boxes, that are built as viewing areas for outdoor sporting activities are exempt from the permanent heating requirements.

“This legislation shouldn’t be necessary, but putting a permanent heating system into the press box would add $250,000 to the cost, and appealing the state’s interpretation could last until mid-summer,” said Kahle, R-Adrian. “Our reform would allow Madison schools to move forward with their upgrades this summer and ensure no other school has to deal with this issue.”

Madison School District is preparing to place bleachers in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and build a new press box and team room near the football field and track.

“Requiring heat for a seasonal building used periodically through the fall athletic season is not only unnecessary but would substantially increase construction costs related to the project,” said Dr. Ryan Rowe, Madison School District superintendent. “I sincerely appreciate the support and efforts of Senator Zorn and Representative Kahle. It is the district’s intent to put local contractors to work and accomplish this project in the very near future.”

SB 294 has been referred to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee and HB 4548 has been referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

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