Zorn electronic prescription bill poised for House passage

LANSING, Mich. — The House Ways and Means Committee has approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to require prescriptions for opioids to be transmitted from the doctor to the pharmacy electronically. The next step is approval by the full House of Representatives.

“The main reason for this reform was to help address the state’s opioid abuse problem by reducing fraudulent availability of these highly addictive drugs,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “By requiring electronic prescriptions for opioids, we can reduce the illegal supply and virtually eliminate ‘doctor shopping’ — where someone acquires drugs from several different doctors.

“In addition, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, e-prescriptions could improve patient safety and efficient access to necessary medications.”

Senate Bill 248, sponsored by Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, would require the electronic prescribing of prescription drugs in Michigan by Jan. 1, 2021. If a prescriber could not meet the electronic transmission requirements due to a technological limitation that was not reasonably within their control, they could apply for a waiver from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

Zorn’s bill, SB 254, would apply to prescriptions for controlled substances containing opioids or benzodiazepines.

Electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, is the use of a technological system by prescribers to write and transmit a patient’s prescription to a participating pharmacy.

“I hope the House approves these measures and Michigan joins other states with an e-prescribing requirement for controlled substances to help protect patients and stop abusers and drug dealers from using fraudulent prescriptions to get these dangerous drugs,” Zorn said.

According to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bills, at least 23 states require e-prescribing with certain exemptions.

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Zorn: Governor’s regional reopening plan leaves out too many Michigan workers

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to allow more businesses in two northern regions of the state to reopen is a positive step, but it still unfairly restricts millions of Michigan families.

“Over a month ago, I supported a Senate Republican proposal to start allowing more people to return to work in Michigan if it could be done safely and with proper precautions to protect workers and the public,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “While I applaud the governor for listening and finally allowing some more businesses in low-risk areas of the state to reopen, her plan is long overdue, too restrictive and leaves out too many Michigan workers.”

On Monday, Whitmer announced partial reopening plans for businesses in the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in Northern Michigan. Under the plan, retail stores and offices, restaurants and bars could reopen starting on Friday with capacity limits and safety requirements.

“This is great news for people living and working up north, but it does nothing for families, small businesses and communities in the rest of the state struggling under the governor’s one-size-fits-all lockdown order,” Zorn said. “While Michigan’s coronavirus situation is improving, some areas with high case numbers might need longer to reopen safely. However, there are many places where people can and should be able to safely return to work.

“Many businesses have been devastated by the virus and the governor’s heavy-handed response, and it will needlessly get worse if she doesn’t allow more areas to safely reopen — especially in our border communities where next door in Ohio, businesses are opening safely.”

Zorn pointed to the fact that Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday allowed the reopening of Ohio restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, barbershops, hair and nail salons, spas and certain other personal service businesses. Indoor restaurants, gyms and other businesses are scheduled to reopen later this month.

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Zorn comments on state budget deficit

LANSING, Mich. — After state fiscal and economic leaders on Friday at the annual May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference projected significant reductions in state revenues of $3.2 billion in the current 2020 fiscal year and $3 billion in FY 2021, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“Although the impact on our budget from the coronavirus and the governor’s one-size-fits-all response was expected, seeing it officially on paper is still alarming. We have many tough decisions to make to solve this budget crisis and not much time to make them, especially for the current budget year.

“For the future of our children and our state, we must make protecting education funding our focus, and I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure any potential cuts to education are as limited as possible.

“The size and scope of this budget problem is yet another example of why it’s important for us to allow more of our economy to restart and allow more Michigan workers to return to their jobs as long as proper safety precautions are in place.”

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Sen. Zorn supports additional funding for workers affected by COVID-19 crisis

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday supported a supplemental budget bill to use $524 million in available federal funding to help Michigan families, workers and schools affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“It is important to do what we can to assist our front-line workers caring for patients, our first responders keeping us safe, those who are out of work, and our students and teachers adjusting to new ways of learning during this pandemic,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This federal relief funding will help us better support struggling Michigan families and our real-life heroes facing the fight against the coronavirus head on every day.”

Senate Bill 690 would provide $11 million for the Unemployment Insurance Agency to immediately hire more staff to help unemployed Michigan workers; $2.5 million in assistance to hospitality workers who may not be eligible for full unemployment benefits; $50 million for additional testing supplies and personal protective equipment for workers at nursing, home health and daycare facilities; and $45 million for at-home learning, summer education and assessment support for schools.

“We must ensure our schools can continue to prepare Michigan students for success and help fix a broken unemployment system that has failed so many Michigan workers,” Zorn said. “As our state faces a significant budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 response, we can use this federal funding to help those affected by the crisis and still protect state tax dollars for critical services.”

SB 690 would also provide $100 million in bonus pay for local first responders, $125 million to reduce child care costs for essential workers, $12 million for food processors to ensure Michigan’s food supply remains safe and operational, and $178 million to temporarily increase pay by $3 per hour for direct care workers — including those caring for seniors in nursing facilities.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn supports lawsuit against governor’s unconstitutional actions

LANSING, Mich. — After Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield on Wednesday announced a joint legislative lawsuit against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for failing to comply with existing state law and disregarding the Michigan Constitution, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“Families in Monroe and Lenawee counties have made tremendous sacrifices during this global pandemic to protect themselves and their communities — and they deserve to have their voice heard on the critical decisions made by their government that affect their lives.

“The people expect their legislators and their governor to work together to protect the public and address the COVID-19 pandemic — and we did work together in early April to legislatively extend the state of emergency declaration through April 30.

“Regrettably, as that extension was set to expire the governor refused to use our constitutional system and work with the Legislature on a responsible solution that addresses the public health crisis and outlines how to safely reopen our state.

“While it’s sad that this is even necessary, I support this lawsuit on behalf of the people to restore our co-equal system of government and defend our state constitution and laws.”

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