Senate panel approves drug-death jurisdiction bills

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn to allow a prosecutor to bring charges in the drug-overdose death of a resident in the county, even if the illegal drugs were purchased in another county.

“As we continue to battle the epidemic of opioid addiction, we need to give prosecutors more tools to punish drug dealers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I have worked together with the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and law enforcement across the state for a couple of years on this commonsense legislation to help provide closure for families devastated by drug overdoses.”

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Allison Arnold of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office testified before the committee in support of Zorn’s bills.

“If a Monroe County resident is killed by illegal drugs bought someplace else, we should still be able to seek justice in Monroe County, and that’s what these reforms will allow,” Arnold said. “I want to thank Sen. Zorn for his commitment and hard work on this issue. This came about due to a real case in our community, and all we’re asking for is to enable our community to take action if one of our own loses their life to drugs.”

Senate Bills 20 and 21 would broaden the potential for prosecution of delivery of a controlled substance causing death to three possible venues: The county where the drugs were delivered, the county where the drugs were consumed, or the county where the victim died from using the drugs.

The bills are the result of a case involving the heroin-overdose death of a man in Monroe County in 2016. The cause of death was toxicity from fentanyl, which is sometimes used by dealers as a cutting agent to make heroin more potent. The dealer was charged in Monroe County with one count of delivery of fentanyl causing death. However, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction because the delivery of the drug occurred in Wayne County.

The bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.


Zorn applauds Michigan letting fall sports play

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday applauded the executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a vote of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Representative Council to allow high school sports to be played this fall, including football.

“I am pleased that the governor and the MHSAA listened to all of us and have decided to give our high school student athletes the opportunity to play the sports they love and compete to be the best they can be,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “In addition to having fun and staying in shape, students in sports learn important lessons about teamwork, leadership and perseverance.”

Last Friday, Zorn participated in a “Let Them Play” rally on the steps of the state Capitol with coaches, parents, student athletes and supporters to urge the governor and the MHSAA to allow state high schools to play sports this fall.

“The process has been a very emotional roller coaster for everyone involved, more importantly the student-athletes,” said Rob Beaudrie, Erie Mason High School football head coach. “The support of the parents, coaches, ADs and superintendents has been outstanding to say the least. All these athletes have just witnessed how to never give up and settle and fight for what you believe in. A very, very important life lesson.”

Jayme Ansel McElvany, founder of the Let Michigan high school football play Facebook group and whose son plays for Milan High School, said, “My son is ecstatic! He never truly believed that this could happen. Even more than him getting his football back, I am thankful that he got to see how people stood up for their rights, fought for what they believed in, and trusted God through it all. I am even more happy for the other kids and families in this state than I am for my own! I can only imagine the smiles, tears and screams across the state right now, and it makes all of this so worth it.”

“I am so thankful for all of the parents who came together for the kids! It’s great to know we still live in a society where ‘We the People’ still have a voice,” said Stacy Johnson, superintendent of Britton Deerfield Schools. “Senator Zorn was with us in this fight from the beginning, and I am very grateful for the support and help for our children. This is the time of their lives!”

As a result of Thursday’s actions, high school football teams can start practicing next week and play games starting Sept. 18. Volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming and diving can begin Wednesday, Sept. 9 when gyms and pools are allowed to reopen statewide.