Zorn backs continuing critical COVID-19 protections, defending co-equal government

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday supported measures to continue many noninvasive COVID-19 protections and defend the Legislature’s role in states of emergency.

“We all agree that we need to do what we can to protect the lives of Michigan families from the COVID-19 pandemic; the difference is whether the governor should keep unchecked emergency powers or if she should work with the Legislature,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Unfortunately, the governor has chosen to try to keep her total power over the Michigan people instead of working with the Legislature on ways to protect the public from COVID-19 while also putting in place specific plans for allowing more Michigan workers to return to work.”

Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4 on March 10 declaring a state of emergency across Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and she issued EO 2020-33 on April 1 to include a state of disaster related to the pandemic. On April 7, the Legislature adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 to extend the states of emergency and disaster through April 30.

Senate Resolution 114 would to allow the body to challenge in court any executive actions taken by the governor after the Legislature’s state of emergency extension expires on May 1.

The Senate also sent the governor legislation to put several COVID-19 executive orders into law and extend those that need to continue to help fight the virus and deal with its impacts. Among the 28 orders included in Senate Bill 858 are those regarding expanded unemployment benefits, distance learning for schools, and liability protections for health care workers treating patients in innovative ways. The bill does not include or extend the state of emergency declaration or the governor’s stay-at-home order.

“The people of Monroe and Lenawee counties, like millions of people across the state, have faced this global pandemic with determination and resolve,” Zorn said. “I encourage them to continue to take the steps to protect themselves and their communities. They deserve to have their government work together to fight this virus, protect our most vulnerable, enable workers to safely support their families, and ensure their voices are heard in these important discussions. That is what these measures will do and why I supported them.”

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Zorn supports increased legislative oversight of emergency powers

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Friday supported measures to increase legislative oversight of the governor’s extraordinary powers during a state of emergency and create a new bipartisan COVID-19 panel.

“The founding idea of a government for the people and by the people should not be tossed aside lightly, even in cases of a public health emergency,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I supported this legislation to give the Michigan people more input into the governor’s use of emergency powers that limit their freedom and affect their lives.

“Emergency actions were necessary to protect the public when the coronavirus came to Michigan. This reform is about speeding up the process for ensuring that elected officials listen to the people and work together to both address the crisis and, when appropriate, enable people to live their lives.”

Senate Bill 857 would repeal the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which does not require legislative input on executive actions, and SB 858 would amend the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to only allow declarations of disaster or emergency to last 14 days before requiring legislative approval, instead of 28 days.

The Legislature also approved House Concurrent Resolution 20 to create the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“To make sure we learn how to better protect people’s lives and liberty against future outbreaks, this bipartisan panel will review the state’s COVID-19 preparations and responses,” Zorn said.

The Senate actions came on the same day the governor announced a new executive order extending her stay-at-home order until May 15 while lifting some restrictions on outdoor activities, allowing some workers to go back to work, and ordering people to wear masks in public enclosed places.

“I’m disappointed the governor continues to fail to listen to Michigan families and job creators about how we can allow more workers to safely return to work,” Zorn said. “Her order is a small step in the right direction by remove restrictions on some workers, but much more can and should be done to let people to provide for their families while still protecting the public.

“One example of critical changes needed to the governor’s orders is allowing our hospitals and health care facilities to reopen and be fully staffed. Many Michigan patients are currently being denied medical services, such as catheterizations and even cancer treatments.”

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Zorn supports plan to help more people safely return to work

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday said he supports a new proposal designed to help Michigan workers return to their jobs safely and put the state’s economy back on track.

“When the governor failed to allow more workers to return to their normal lives safely and with proper precautions in her extended stay-at-home order, she failed millions of Michigan families,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Instead of putting more restrictions on people’s freedoms and livelihoods, the governor should have adopted responsible exemptions for workers to return to work if they are in low-risk jobs or for those who live in communities with little or no cases of COVID-19.

“I support the positive plan laid out by Senate Majority Leader Shirkey to phase-in efforts to get our economy going and enable people to provide for their families — while still protecting the public and our workers.”

The Senate Republican “Open Michigan Safely” plan relies on measurable data points to serve as indicators of decreased risk. The proposal is structured in five phases that outline conditions in the state, suggest safe business operations, and propose guarded levels of public activity. The phases consider testing capability, hospital capacity, availability of personal protection equipment, and a vaccine or similar medical breakthrough to combat COVID-19.

The proposal would allow low-risk businesses to operate during Phase 1. Low-risk businesses are those with little to no physical contact between employers, employees and customers. People who can perform their jobs without the need for physical contact with another person would be allowed to resume work, such as workers who mow lawns or spray for outdoor pests.

“I hope the governor will seriously consider this commonsense proposal and start allowing the Michigan people to return to a sense of their normal lives if it can be done safely and with proper precautions to combat the spread of the virus,” Zorn said.

Over 3,400 participate in Zorn COVID-19 tele-town hall

LANSING, Mich. — More than 3,400 area residents from Monroe and Lenawee counties participated in a COVID-19 tele-town hall meeting on Friday with Sen. Dale Zorn and Dr. Stephen Bell of Newport Internal Medicine.

“The COVID-19 situation in Michigan and nationwide is rapidly changing, and people have a lot of questions about what is happening and how to stay safe,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We had a great turnout for the tele-town hall meeting, and Dr. Bell and I were able to answer several questions about the virus, our state and local response efforts and what people can do to help protect themselves and their families.”

Residents asked Zorn and Bell questions on many topics, such as why lawn maintenance isn’t allowed under the stay-at-home order, if a vaccine is coming soon or if there will be a second wave, why Michigan has more cases than Ohio, how area hospitals are doing, what the average recovery time is for the virus, if the governor’s executive orders require approval, if things will return to normal at the end of the stay-at-home order, how we will solve our economic crisis after this virus, and what resources are available for seniors in their homes.

“I want to thank everyone who participated and encourage anyone who could not take part in the tele-town hall to call the COVID-19 hotline or contact my office if they have any questions,” Zorn said.

Residents who were unable to participate are encouraged to contact Zorn’s office by calling 517-373-3543 or by emailing the senator at [email protected].

For information about COVID-19 and the state’s response to the pandemic, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus. The state has also launched a hotline about COVID-19. Residents with any questions about the virus can call 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

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Zorn critical of governor’s strict extended ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ executive order

LANSING, Mich. — After the governor on Thursday issued a new executive order extending her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order through April 30 and adding new restrictions, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“I am shocked and deeply disturbed about the severe restrictions on people’s freedoms and lives included in the governor’s extended stay-at-home order, even on those in communities with little or no cases of COVID-19.

“Michigan families have done a great job adjusting to life during this extraordinary time, and they deserve to be able to return to their normal lives safely and with proper precautions. Instead, on the Thursday before Easter, the governor continued bans on family gatherings of any size.

“I hope the governor will consider revisions to allow Michigan workers in low-infection areas to get back to work if their employer implements strict health and safety measures to protect their employees and the public.

“Although I appreciate the governor heeding my advice to allow dealerships to continue sales and leasing online and allowing delivery directly to homes, I am greatly disappointed that the governor’s extended stay-at-home order does not allow more Michigan workers in low-risk or low-contact jobs to return to work to support their families.”

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Zorn urges governor to allow internet vehicle sales and leasing during COVID-19 emergency

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday sent a letter to the governor urging her to allow Michigan dealerships to sell and lease vehicles online during the state’s COVID-19 emergency.

“Michigan is the automobile state, yet our state’s auto dealers are currently at a great disadvantage compared to dealers in states like Ohio, where they can still sell and lease vehicles in person and over the internet,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We can allow our auto dealers to compete and protect the public from the coronavirus at the same time.

“I am urging the governor to revise her stay-at-home order to allow Michigan dealers to sell and lease vehicles over the internet and deliver them directly to the buyer’s or lessee’s home.”

Zorn’s letter specifically asks the governor to consider amending Executive Order 2020-21 to grant Michigan auto dealers the ability to use online sales and leasing options to serve consumers.

“Our auto dealers have successfully been selling vehicles via the internet for many years through available software such as GM’s Shop, Click, Drive program, which offers no person-to-person contact,” Zorn said. “My request to the governor is about allowing a cornerstone of our economy to continue to function in a limited form while still ensuring our state has the necessary measures in place during this public health emergency.”

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Legislature extends Michigan’s state of emergency

LANSING, Mich. — The state Legislature on Tuesday approved a resolution to extend Michigan’s state of emergency through April 30.

“It is important that we do everything we can to fight the spread of the coronavirus, and I want to thank the health care workers who are helping patients and everyone who is doing their part to protect themselves and others,” said Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida. “The resolution only extends the governor’s state of emergency declaration to April 30 to match the federal guidelines and continue state efforts to limit the spread of the virus. It does not change the governor’s stay-at-home order.”

On March 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the governor requested a 70-day extension of the declaration, but legislators determined that was too long.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 extends the governor’s emergency and disaster declaration by 23 days until April 30. It does not require the governor’s signature to take effect.

“The Legislature is the most direct voice of the people, and the governor’s 70-day request was simply too long for the people to not have a say in the actions taken by their government on their behalf,” Zorn said. “This health crisis is rapidly changing. This shorter extension will enable the state to take emergency actions to save lives while also allowing us to review the situation at the end of the month.

“If necessary, we can further extend the declaration. However, we also need to leave open the possibility that things will improve and we can allow Michigan families to get back to work and to their normal lives.”

For more information about COVID-19 and the state’s response to the pandemic, residents can visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus or call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

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Sen. Zorn holding COVID-19 tele-town hall on Friday

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday announced that he will host a coronavirus (COVID-19) tele-town hall on Friday, April 10 with Dr. Stephen Bell of Newport Internal Medicine.

“The COVID-19 coronavirus is highly contagious and causes respiratory illness that has already infected over 17,000 Michigan residents, including roughly 150 people in Monroe and Lenawee counties,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I want to first remind everyone not to panic during this public health emergency. Be calm but persistent.

“The situation is rapidly changing, and I know people have a lot of questions. I am holding this tele-town hall meeting to help answer questions about the virus, our state’s response efforts to it and what people can do to help protect themselves and others.”

The tele-town hall will take place on Friday, April 10 at 12:15 p.m. Residents wishing to participate may join the meeting by calling 855-756-7520 and entering extension 59091.

Gov. Whitmer recently approved legislation to dedicate $150 million in state and federal funds to help fight the spread of COVID-19. President Trump has also approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan and the governor has issued several executive orders, including orders closing school buildings for the rest of the school year and directing people to stay at home except for limited essential exemptions.

Residents who are unable to participate are encouraged to contact Zorn’s office by calling 517-373-3543 or by emailing the senator at [email protected].

Zorn will also continue to share the latest information on his official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Sen.DaleZorn/.

For information about COVID-19 and the state’s response to the pandemic, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus. The state has also launched a hotline about COVID-19. Residents with any questions about the virus can call 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

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