Zorn applauds grant for Heidtman expansion in Bedford Township, Monroe

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn is applauding a recent announcement from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approving a local business expansion project in Bedford Township and Monroe that will create 65 jobs and a $9.1 million investment in the region.

The MSF awarded Heidtman Steel Products a $325,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to expand its facilities for a project the company is partnering on with TNT, a tubing company, to purchase a tube mill that will provide an opportunity to serve an existing recreational vehicle customer of TNT’s in Indiana.

“This is great news during a tough time,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The added jobs and investment will be a real shot in the arm for Monroe, Bedford Township, and surrounding communities. I applaud Heidtman for its long-standing commitment to our part of the state and thank the MSF for its trust and support.”

Heidtman has served the region for more than 60 years, processing, packaging, and distributing flat-rolled steel products to customers in a variety of industries throughout North America.

Bedford Township offered a 50% property tax abatement in support of the project.

Michigan was chosen over a competing site in Indiana.


Zorn electronic prescription bill sent to governor

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to require prescriptions for opioids to be transmitted from the doctor to the pharmacy electronically is on its way to the governor to be signed.

“This legislation would use e-prescribing technology to improve patient safety and efficient access to necessary medications and help address the opioid abuse epidemic that still plagues Monroe County,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Requiring electronic prescriptions for opioids will reduce the illegal supply of these highly addictive drugs and virtually eliminate ‘doctor shopping’ — where someone gets prescriptions from several different doctors.

“Some prescription opioid pain medicines have effects similar to heroin, and this legislation would also keep prevent drug dealers and abuser from using fraudulent prescriptions to get them.”

Senate Bill 248, sponsored by Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, would require the electronic prescribing of prescription drugs in Michigan by Oct. 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.

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


Sen. Zorn supports bill to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday voted for legislation designed to prevent people who have COVID-19 from being admitted or retained in nursing home and long-term care facilities.

“We must do everything possible to protect our most vulnerable residents, especially during a public health crisis. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 the state failed to do so — with deadly consequences,” said Zorn, R-Ida, “Instead of protecting our most at-risk seniors from the coronavirus, the governor ordered nursing facilities with less than 80% capacity to create space to accept patients with COVID-19, regardless of their ability to care for them and isolate the spread of the virus. As a result, nearly 2,000 people in our nursing homes have died from the virus, accounting for more than one-third of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.

“It was a preventable tragedy, and this bill would ensure we have the ability to treat future COVID-19 patients while never again jeopardizing the lives of nursing home residents.”

Senate Bill 956 would prohibit people with COVID-19 who are ineligible for admission in a hospital from being admitted or retained in a nursing home unless the facility has a state-approved designated area and program to provide appropriate care necessary to the patient.

The bill would require the state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to develop and submit a plan to the House and Senate health policy committees describing its process to ensure there are dedicated facilities to provide care for COVID-19-positive patients in each of the eight health care regions.

It would also require MDHHS to evaluate the COVID-19 Regional Hubs that were previously implemented and operated during the state’s response to COVID-19 in nursing home facilities and report its findings to the health policy committees.

According to the federal government, several of the state’s nursing homes serving as regional hubs for COVID-19 patients received low-quality ratings as determined by a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rating system.

SB 956 has been approved by the Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Sen. Zorn supports Return to Learn Plan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn said he strongly supports the Michigan Return to Learn Plan to ensure the safety of students as learning resumes in the fall.

The plan was unveiled on Tuesday by the chairs of the House and Senate education committees and would invest $1.3 billion in restricted federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to ensure schools can reopen safely with both in-classroom and remote learning options.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every part of our lives, and our students and teachers were among the most affected as school buildings across Michigan were closed to protect people from the virus,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As conditions improve in our state and our schools prepare to reopen in the fall, we need to ensure they have the necessary resources to improve safety and provide our students with healthy learning conditions and options.”

The plan would provide schools $800 per student to implement coronavirus-related health measures, such as reducing class sizes, adopting a robust distance learning plan, enhancing sanitation procedures, purchasing personal protective equipment, and making building enhancements to improve safety. Resources would be available for all efforts undertaken after the statewide closure of classrooms on March 16.

The Return to Learn Plan would also redefine “attendance” to mean “engaged in instruction” rather than “physically present” to give students the opportunity to learn remotely, have school districts work with local health departments to establish safety requirements for extracurricular activities and sports in addition to regular school safety measures, and provide $80 million to intermediate school districts to assist schools with distance learning plans and safety measures.

“Instead of a one-size-fits-all burden, this plan gives students, teachers and school officials flexibility to make the decisions that will work best for them,” Zorn said. “It also expresses our deep appreciation for the teachers — who were incredible in continuing to teach their students during unprecedented school closures — by providing each of them $500 for their time and sacrifice.”


Sen. Zorn votes for $880M in funding for people affected by COVID-19 crisis

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday voted to send the governor a supplemental budget bill authorizing the use of $880 million in available federal funding to help Michigan families, workers and students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus has had an enormous impact on our state and nation. Thousands of people have lost their lives, and thousands more have lost their livelihoods,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This vital federal COVID-19 relief funding will help Michigan families affected by the crisis — starting with helping get important benefits to unemployed workers and helping our small business job providers to safely reopen and get people back to work.

“We must also thank and support our front-line workers caring for patients, our first responders keeping us safe, our local officials providing critical services and our teachers ensuring our students still receive an education that prepares them for success.”

Senate Bill 690 would provide $29 million for additional temporary workers to handle unemployment claims, $100 million for small business restart grants, $100 million in hazard pay for local first responders, $125 million to reduce child care costs by 30%, and $117 million to temporarily increase pay by $2 per hour for direct care workers — including those caring for seniors in nursing facilities.

SB 690 would also invest $200 million for local governments for public health and safety costs related to the pandemic, $25 million for testing supplies and personal protective equipment for workers like those at nursing and home health care facilities, $15 million to support farms and maintain a safe food supply, $2.5 million in assistance to hospitality workers who may not be eligible for full unemployment benefits, and $43 million to make learn-from-home devices and connectivity more affordable and cover COVID-19 costs for schools.

“While protecting our limited state resources for providing vital services, this federal relief funding is a lifeline for many families, job creators and communities struggling in response to the coronavirus outbreak,” Zorn said.


Senate approves Zorn bill to protect youths from vaping

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation as part of a six-bill package to control the sale of electronic cigarettes in Michigan and raise the legal smoking age for all tobacco products from 18 to 21.

“For decades we’ve seen the terrible and often deadly impact of youth tobacco use in Michigan and across the country,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The concern now is the alarming use of vaping products by minors and reports that these devices are just as dangerous as traditional tobacco products. This bipartisan package is designed to clear up any confusion about the use of e-cigarettes or vaping devices in our communities while also protecting the health of our children and young adults.”

Vaping, or the use of electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes and other nicotine vapor delivery devices, has become increasingly popular with individuals of all ages.

Zorn’s bill, Senate Bill 785, would require a tobacco product seller to check to make sure that a buyer is at least 21 years old. The current age requirement is 18.

The other bills, SBs 781-784 and 786, would regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, tax vaping products at a rate of 18% of the wholesale price, require state licenses for all businesses and sales staff engaged in selling vaping products, create advertising restrictions for the sale of vapor products, require electronic age verification for the sale of vapor products, and raise the current age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Flags to be lowered in honor of Officer Darrian Young

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has granted Sen. Dale Zorn’s request to lower the U.S. flags in Michigan to half-staff on Friday, June 12 in honor of Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Darrian Young.

Young died June 6 at age 24 from injuries sustained in the line of duty when her marked Animal Control Division vehicle was hit by a suspected drunken driver.

“Darrian Young was a dedicated officer and avid animal lover who tragically lost her life far too soon while serving her community,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Officer Young had so much ahead of her. She had a job she loved; she had recently bought a horse farm with her fiancé; and she was planning her wedding. The shock and sadness of losing someone so young is hard to comprehend.

“I thank the governor for helping recognize the life of this brave and honorable woman as her family, friends and community prepare to say goodbye.”

Zorn sent the governor a letter requesting the half-staff flag tribute on June 12 or 13 to coincide either with a wake for Young’s family and friends or her funeral. On Thursday, Whitmer approved the request.

On Tuesday, Zorn memorialized Young on the Senate floor during session, which was attended by Young’s fiancé Zach Farris, father Aaron Young, stepfather Brad Kampath and mother Tammy Kampath.


Sen. Zorn memorializes Officer Darrian Young

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday gave a memorial tribute on the Senate floor during session in honor of the life and service of Monroe County Animal Control Officer Darrian Young, who died early Saturday from injuries sustained in the line of duty after being hit by a suspected drunken driver.

“The people of Monroe County were deeply saddened to hear about the death of Officer Darrian Young. She was just 24 years old,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Officer Young was an enthusiastic animal lover and had a lifelong passion for horses. Darrian started riding at age 5, won two regional championships at the age of 12, and went to state two years with her Airport High School equestrian team. She owned, trained and rehomed over 100 horses — often purchasing tough horses at auction, training them and then providing them new homes.

“Recently, she had achieved her dream of owning a horse farm with her fiancé, Zach Farris, and she was planning on having her wedding on the farm. In addition to loving animals, Officer Young loved antiquing and the outdoors. She was also quite a practical jokester — even though her smile often let you know something was up.”

Zorn recognized Young’s family in attendance during Senate session, including Young’s fiancé Zach Farris, father Aaron Young, stepfather Brad Kampath and mother Tammy Kampath.

“It is hard to express the sorrow felt by the entire community after losing someone so young and full of life,” Zorn said. “I ask that you please keep Darrian’s parents, her fiancé, their families, and her colleagues at the Monroe County Sheriff’s office in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with this devastating loss.”

Zorn ended with requesting a moment of silence in tribute to Young.


Editor’s note: Video of Zorn’s tribute is available by clicking on the image or at www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Video.

Zorn supports bill to improve law enforcement training

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted for legislation to ensure all law enforcement officers receive training to help improve their community relationships and protect all Michigan families from excessive force.

“The shocking and sickening murder of George Floyd is the latest in a long line of tragedies that illustrate that in many areas of our society, we still have a long way to go to achieve our founding principle that all men are created equal,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Racism in all its forms is immoral and has no place in our society. Unfortunately, George Floyd’s death shows that we still have a systemic problem that needs to be solved. It’s not going to be quick or easy. It starts by listening and improving education.

“This measure is a good step forward. It will help ensure that all law enforcement officers in our state have the best training to keep our communities safe and protect the rights of all Michigan residents.”

Senate Bill 945 would require that all law enforcement officers complete training on implicit bias, procedural justice, and de-escalation techniques and receive education on mental health resources. It also would require ongoing annual continuing education for officers.

Law enforcement agencies would be required to adopt a policy stating the officers employed have an affirmative duty to use de-escalation techniques whenever possible. The policy would need to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2022. The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) would be tasked with creating a model policy for agencies to adopt.

SB 945 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Zorn: Lifting much of stay-at-home order is ‘overdue, but encouraging step forward’

LANSING, Mich. — After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday issued a new executive order rescinding much of her stay-at-home order, allowing retailers to reopen on June 4 and restaurants to reopen on June 8 — with certain capacity limits, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“I’m pleased to see that the governor has recognized the devastating impact the coronavirus and the stay-at-home order have had on Michigan families and small businesses.

“For several weeks, we have urged the governor to reduce her punitive and overly broad restrictions and allow more Michigan workers in low-risk or low-contact jobs to return to work to support their families.

“This is an overdue but encouraging step forward. However, we need to continue to do more to reopen our state — especially in border communities where many businesses remain closed while competitors just across the state line are open and safely serving customers.”