Governor signs Trooper Adams memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to honor Trooper Rodger Adams, who was the 25th Michigan State Police officer to die in the line of duty.

“Our state troopers and local law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to keep us safe, and we too often take that for granted,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I want to thank the governor for signing this bill, which will honor the life and death of Trooper Rodger Adams — a husband, veteran and dedicated officer who was tragically killed while serving and protecting the people of Michigan.”

On May 14, 1971, Adams was killed instantly when his patrol car was hit nearly head-on by an oncoming car on U.S. 12 near Tipton Highway as Adams and his partner were responding to a traffic crash shortly after 1 a.m.

Senate Bill 132 designates a portion of U.S. 12 in Lenawee County from M-52 to the Monagan Highway as the “Trooper Rodger M. Adams Memorial Highway.”

Former Lenawee County Commissioner Jim Driskill previously testified in support of Zorn’s bill.

The measure has no fiscal impact on the state or local government. State law requires private contributions to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining markers indicating the name of a memorial highway.

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Sen. Zorn supports COVID-19 protection measures

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted for several COVID-19 protection measures in the wake of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders.

“We must work together, and my Senate colleagues and I have repeatedly said we’re ready and willing to partner with the governor to protect our state and the Michigan people. Unfortunately, the governor has consistently rejected our efforts,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, I hope the governor will join us in a cooperative fashion to protect families, workers and job providers from COVID-19.

“To begin this outreach for bipartisan solutions, I was proud to support bills to continue vital unemployment benefits for struggling workers, protect Michigan seniors in nursing facilities, and enable local governments officials to continue to meet remotely during the outbreak.”

Senate Bills 886 and 911 would continue unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks for eligible workers out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 1108 would allow boards of local governments and other public entities to meet electronically for a limited time and still engage the general public.

SB 1094 would reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing recommendations of the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. It prohibits the return of COVID-19-positive residents to nursing facilities unless they have recovered or if the facility has established a state approved and dedicated area to care for people with the virus.

“The governor previously vetoed similar bills regarding unemployment benefits and nursing home protections. I hope this time she will support the Michigan people and sign these important bills into law,” Zorn said.

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn denounces and condemns shocking plot against the governor and state government

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement Thursday after the FBI announced it thwarted a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the Michigan state government:

“The planned attack against our governor and our state is absolutely disgusting and appalling. There is no room for violence in our free society, and I denounce and condemn the groups responsible for this shocking plot.

“I also want to applaud and thank the FBI and state police for their great work to stop this act of terror and bring the terrorists to justice.

“My thoughts are with the governor and her family, and I pray for their continued safety.”

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Whitmer’s deadly nursing home policy

We must do everything possible to protect our most vulnerable residents, especially during a public health crisis. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 the governor and lieutenant governor failed to do so — with deadly consequences.

When COVID-19 first appeared in the U.S., one of the few things we knew about it was that it was much more dangerous for the elderly. As a result, the national Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance in mid-March about how to control COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Nursing homes are not hospitals, and they are certainly not an appropriate place to house patients with COVID-19 unless they have a confirmed plan to isolate those patients from the other residents.

However, instead of protecting our most at-risk seniors from the coronavirus, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order in April forcing 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, over 2,000 people in our nursing homes have died from the virus, accounting for one-third of all COVID-19 deaths in Michigan. Placing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes without adequate protections for residents was irresponsible when some hospitals were not full and two field hospitals that were set up to serve thousands of patients went mostly unused.

It was a preventable tragedy, and I joined my colleagues — in a bipartisan fashion — in support of legislation that would ensure our state had the ability to treat future COVID-19 patients while never again jeopardizing the lives of nursing home residents.

Senate Bill 956 would have prohibited the placement of COVID-19 positive patients in nursing homes unless the facility could properly isolate and treat the patient. It also placed a priority on separate dedicated facilities for positive patients.

Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the measure and refused to change her failed policy.

Recently, the governor’s own Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force released recommendations that echoed that very same legislation she vetoed.

The governor’s rejection of the bipartisan legislation, which would have already implemented some of her task force’s recommendations, and her refusal to admit her mistake and work with the Legislature on corrective actions continues to jeopardize our seniors in nursing facilities.

While the Legislature, medical professionals and our citizens have asked the governor for the scientific data she is using, the U.S. Department of Justice has also requested COVID-19 data from the administration concerning executive orders that may have led to the deaths of nursing home residents. I am hopeful they will be more successful in getting the data, answers and accountability that the governor refuses to provide to us.

Lt. Gov. Gilchrist stated publicly “President Trump is a liar who has killed people, straight up.” I join the people of Michigan who were appalled at such a remark, especially coming from a sitting lieutenant governor. It was disgraceful. Instead of hurling insults, the governor and lieutenant governor should instead focus on providing answers to the families of the thousands of elderly Michiganians lost due to their tragic decisions.

The Michigan people deserve better.