**PHOTO ADVISORY** Local dog trainer testifies in support of Zorn’s emotional support animal bills

LANSING, Mich. — Cheryl Wassus, a certified Monroe County dog trainer and evaluator for about 30 years, testified before the Senate Local Government Committee on Thursday in support of Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to regulate the prescription of emotional support animals and requests for reasonable accommodation for the animals in housing.

Zorn, R-Ida, serves as chairman of the committee and sponsored Senate Bill 610, which specifies that someone cannot falsely represent themselves to housing providers as a person with a disability for the purpose of allowing a pet in a rental property as an emotional support animal. The bill outlines a standard for proper documentation of the need for an emotional support animal and potential penalties for violating the act. SB 609 would provide a clear distinction in the law between emotional support animals and service animals.

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

New Line 5 tunnel is best way to protect the Great Lakes and great jobs

Since I joined the state Legislature in 2011, I have tried to put my real-world experience as a small business owner, local government official and avid outdoorsman to use to improve our state, protect our outdoors and help create good jobs for workers.

These three goals were the main reasons I supported legislation last year to replace the aging Line 5 pipeline currently on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac with a new pipeline housed in a multiuse tunnel 100 feet under the straits.

Construction of a tunnel to hold a replacement pipeline is the best long-term option to remove the existing 66-year-old pipeline from the Great Lakes and protect both our environment and our economy. The tunnel would virtually eliminate any risk to the Great Lakes while enabling the safe transportation of energy resources to homeowners in the U.P. and refineries here in the Toledo and Detroit areas.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s attorney general is trying to stop the construction of the tunnel and shut down the existing pipeline altogether. Closing the Line 5 pipeline without a viable replacement in place is irresponsible and could have a devastating impact to our state and region.

To transport energy without the pipeline would require tens of thousands more rail cars and trucks as well as oil-carrying barges and tankers on the Great Lakes — at a much greater risk to our water and our roads.

Officials at the Toledo Refining Co. have said that 550 jobs could be lost if Line 5 were to be shut down. Workers at the Toledo-area BP-Husky refinery and the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Detroit would also be affected.

In addition to the lost jobs, shutting down the pipeline without the tunnel to replace it would impact millions of other Michigan families through increased prices for gasoline, jet fuel at Detroit Metro Airport, and propane used to heat most homes in rural communities.

I regularly hear the concerns from local residents about the impact if the state shuts down Line 5 without the tunnel. Their concerns are shared by many area leaders, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who sent Gov. Whitmer a letter this summer urging her not to shut down the pipeline.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. In this case, that is to let Enbridge construct a $500 million tunnel — at its own cost — below the Straits of Mackinac, put a new Line 5 pipeline safely in it, and remove the existing pipeline from the Great Lakes.

Zorn bills would clarify need for emotional support animals

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday introduced legislation to regulate the prescription of emotional support animals and requests for reasonable accommodation for the animals in housing.

“This legislation would not impact the use of service animals or people who have a clear need for an emotional support animal,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The goal of this reform is to continue to support those who legitimately benefit from an emotional support animal while stopping those who are abusing the system just to get around rental property rules concerning pets.”

Senate Bill 610 would specify that someone cannot falsely represent themselves to housing providers as a person with a disability for the purpose of allowing a pet in a rental property as an emotional support animal. The bill outlines a standard for proper documentation of the need for an emotional support animal and potential penalties for violating the act.

Under the bill, the Department of Civil Rights would serve as the reporting body to accept complaints and reports of false representation via a telephone hotline.

SB 609 would provide a clear distinction in the law between emotional support animals and service animals.

SBs 608-610 have been referred to the Senate Local Government Committee for consideration.

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Zorn disappointed with governor’s ‘reckless and senseless’ cuts

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday said he’s disappointed with much of the governor’s line-item vetoes in the fiscal year 2020 budget, including cuts to roads, schools and public safety.

“After working on the budget since March and throughout the summer — then experiencing the governor walking out of negotiations — the Legislature passed a budget supported by Republicans and Democrats to support continued economic growth, educational opportunities, improved public safety, and nearly $400 million in additional road funding,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The balanced budget plan did it all without raising the gas tax by $2.5 billion on Michigan families.

“Instead of funding opioid recovery, autism programs and environmental protections such as combating PFAS at local airports, Gov. Whitmer made reckless and senseless vetoes to cut nearly $1 billion in funding from the budget — a political move that has led to upheaval in our state departments and will affect every Michigan resident and visitor.”

Upon signing the state budget, the governor issued a historic 147 line-item vetoes to cut $947 million in funding approved by the Legislature, including $128 million from the K-12 school aid budget, $13 million for county sheriff secondary road patrols, $37.5 million for the Pure Michigan tourism promotion program, $37 million for the Going Pro job training program and $10 million for rural jobs and development.

“It was bad enough that the governor promised to fix the roads and then vetoed $375 million in additional road funding, but then to tell state workers that ‘she had their back’ only to slash the budget unnecessarily is disgraceful,” Zorn said “Many of those employees are now waiting to see if her cuts will mean lay-offs while our communities face a lack of services including in public safety.

“In my 40 years of public service, I have never seen anything more politically motivated and recklessly achieved than Gov. Whitmer’s veto actions.

“Even after all of this, the governor is now asking the Legislature for a new spending bill to restore a small fraction of the very cuts she just made.”

Here is a list of some of the cuts that will directly affect Monroe and Lenawee counties:
• Eliminating the county sheriff secondary road patrol will cost Lenawee County $103,000 and Monroe County $147,305, which will force the sheriff to eliminate the patrol positions and re-assign the officers. The Monroe County sheriff has indicated he would discontinue handling calls for service, traffic enforcement and patrolling on I-75, I-275, US-23, M-50, M-125 and US-24. The state police would need to assume that responsibly.
• Eliminating the County Jail Reimbursement Program will cost Monroe County $160,000 and Lenawee County $27,000.
• Additional cuts to the Michigan State Police include $654,500 for local law enforcement training grants; $600,000 for traffic safety during Michigan International Speedway events, and $20 million to the Civil Air Patrol that covers fuel and maintenance costs for both counties.
• Cuts to the School Aid budget include $10 million for school safety grants, $35 million for charter school operations, $16 million for career and technical education (CTE) equipment, $2 million for schools to use local produce for student lunches, $3 million to the Michigan Education Corps reading program, $1.5 million for a teacher job bank to address teacher shortages, $1.5 million for the Algebra Nation and Imagine Learning programs, and $5 million for the CTE per-pupil incentive program that pays $50 per student in CTE.
• Cuts to the Michigan Tuition Grants will affect 17,000 students, including 656 students at Siena Heights University.

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