Zorn applauds resignation of DHHS Director Gordon

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Friday applauded the resignation of Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon.

“Two weeks ago, I called for the resignation of Director Gordon due to the unacceptable COVID-19 vaccination results under his leadership,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “It was an outrage that many small businesses and workers were struggling to stay afloat due to the state’s lockdown orders — yet our vaccination rate was among the worst in the country.

“I am glad to see he has agreed to step down, and I hope that the new director, Elizabeth Hertel, can provide our state with better solutions as we move forward and efficiently get our people the vaccine to save lives.”

At the time Zorn called for Gordon to resign, Michigan ranked 39th in the country in terms of the number of people administered the vaccine per capita, according to data tracking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The DHHS is in charge of the vaccine in Michigan. According to its online COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, the state had distributed 725,850 COVID-19 vaccines as of Jan. 6, but only 174,749 doses had been administered.


Zorn amazed at Whitmer’s continued abuse of power

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Health and Human Services announced they are allowing in-person dining at restaurants after Feb. 1 with a 25% capacity limit but keeping high school winter contact sports shut down:

“I am still amazed at the governor’s continued abuse of power and her lack of understanding about the impact of her actions. She acts like she’s being gracious as she tells Michigan restaurants that in 10 days they can reopen at 25% capacity, yet she’s still jeopardizing their family businesses and the livelihoods of their workers.

“There is no evidence that indoor dining at restaurants has been a significant spreader of the virus. If the governor has such evidence, she should release it to the public. I would also like to see the specific data that justifies the arbitrary 100-person limit for larger facilities and the 10 p.m. curfew.

“Besides the repeated attacks on family businesses, I’m also frustrated that the governor continues to shut down high school winter contact sports. Our youth and student athletes continue to have their seasons delayed regardless of the preventive actions they have taken to stay safe and with absolutely no evidence these sports are a major driver in spreading COVID-19. Many of these kids will never get back these lost opportunities.”


Zorn sponsors school busing, local government and rental property measures

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has reintroduced legislation to increase flexibility for purchasing new school buses, serving on local boards and transferring rental property.

Senate Bill 20 would expand the use of a sinking fund to allow school districts to use it to purchase school buses.

“As schools return to in-person learning and try to keep up with increasing costs, we should give them more flexibility in safely transporting their students,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Older buses are more expensive to operate and maintain, are more polluting and are the least reliable. This reform would allow local voters to decide how best to provide school busing. It can also help lower costs compared to bonding or borrowing, which can help put more education dollars into student instruction.”

SB 17 would help more local communities fill first responder and public safety positions.

Currently, a public servant of a Michigan township, city, village or county with a population of 25,000 or more cannot serve that community as an EMT, firefighter, police officer or public safety officer. SB 17 would expand the population limit to 40,000.

“This simple reform would allow more local public servants — who are trained and willing to serve — to help save lives in their communities,” Zorn said. “The law was changed decades ago to provide more flexibility to rural townships that were struggling to find volunteer firefighters or EMTs. Now townships just above the population limit are having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers.”

SB 16 would allow rental property owners more flexibility when transferring property between entities. It is a reintroduction of SB 692, which was passed by the Legislature last year only to be pocket vetoed by the governor without explanation.

“This is about ending unnecessary and costly rental reinspections simply based on the transfer of a property from one type of entity to another — even if the owners of both entities are the same people,” Zorn said. “I was frustrated when the governor didn’t sign this reform, and I hope we can find an agreement to end this form of double dipping that happens when an owner transfers property from one business entity to another or from personal ownership into an LLC, IRA or trust.”


Zorn bill would encourage investments in local businesses

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has reintroduced legislation to provide an incentive for Michigan residents to invest in a Michigan business to help them succeed and support local communities.

“Encouraging people to invest in Michigan businesses is a great way to help support our local job providers — especially those struggling to stay afloat during the state’s ongoing shutdowns,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of local businesses in our lives. They understand what makes our communities unique; they provide jobs and opportunities for our people, and they support our schools and local services.

“By incentivizing local investments, we can help our small businesses and put local resources to use in building better and stronger communities.”

Senate Bill 13 would allow Michigan residents to claim a tax credit for up to 50% of a qualified investment into a Michigan business.

Under the bill, a qualified business would need to be located and headquartered in Michigan, have a majority of its employees working in Michigan and receive at least 80% of its gross revenues from operations in Michigan.

To be eligible for the credit, no one in the investor’s family could be an employee or owner of the business or have a preexisting financial relationship with the business.

SB 13 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.


Zorn reintroduces drug-death jurisdiction bills

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has reintroduced legislation 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.

“I remain committed to helping local prosecutors seek justice and provide closure for local families dealing with the loss of a loved one to a drug overdose,” said Zorn. R-Ida. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, communities throughout our state continue to face an opioid abuse epidemic. I have worked together with the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and local law enforcement leaders for years on this legislation to give them more flexibility to help combat the opioid crisis and crack down on drug dealers.”

Senate Bills 14 and 15 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, and the county where the victim died from using the drugs.

According to the governor’s office, opioid overdoses have killed 8,000 Michigan residents over the last five years, and the crisis has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, with calls to emergency medical services for opioid overdoses 22% higher from April to July 2020 than during the same period in 2019.

Zorn’s bills are the result of a 2016 case involving the heroin-overdose death of a man in Monroe County. 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 the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction because the drugs were obtained in Wayne County.


Zorn reintroduces health care bills

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday reintroduced legislation to cut burdensome regulations, reduce health care costs, improve access to physical therapy and allow retired EMTs to volunteer in underserved areas.

Senate Bill 12 would end the certificate of need (CON) for outpatient cardiac catheterization services for which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has already approved a reimbursement code as an outpatient service. A CON is a legal document that enables the establishment or expansion of health care facilities or services in Michigan.

“Access to safe and affordable medical care should never be blocked by obsolete state government requirements — especially as new technologies enable outpatient providers to offer lifesaving medical care at a much lower cost to patients,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This reform would cut unnecessary red tape for cardiac catheterization procedures that can be safely performed in an outpatient setting.”

SB 18 would enter Michigan into the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact, which gives the option for eligible physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to obtain a “compact privilege” in other participating states.

“This measure is about increasing access for Michigan families to necessary physical therapy care — while still protecting patients,” Zorn said. “Ideally, Ohio would follow our lead if my reform is enacted, which would enable Michigan physical therapists to help patients across the border in Ohio and allow physical therapists in Ohio to help patients in Monroe and Lenawee counties.”

SB 19 would allow retired medical first responders, emergency medical technicians and paramedics to obtain a special retiree license enabling them to donate their expertise and service for the care of poor patients or in medically underserved areas.

“In 2013, we provided this special volunteer license for certain retired medical professionals, but somehow retired EMTs were not included in the law,” Zorn said. “Given the shortage of front-line health care workers we have seen during this pandemic, it only makes sense to allow retired first responders to help save lives.”

The bills have been referred to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee for consideration.


Zorn angry about Whitmer’s continued attack on Michigan restaurants

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Health and Human Services announced they are extending the state’s ban on in-person dining at restaurants through Feb. 1:

“I am angry with the governor’s continued attack on Michigan restaurants and small business owners. Despite zero data or evidence that these job providers have been spreaders of the virus, she has shut them down and had her minions strip them of their licenses if they dared to disobey her in a last-ditch effort to stay afloat.

“I urge the governor to reconsider this extension and allow businesses to take necessary safety steps and reopen when they believe it to be safe for their patrons and workers.

“Since the governor and Director Gordon started their ‘three week pause’ back on Nov. 18, daily COVID-19 cases have been cut in half, the positive test percentage is down by over 45%, and hospitalizations have dropped by nearly 40%. These are the metrics the governor reportedly wanted to see reduced before reopening our economy. Well, they’re down substantially and Michigan restaurants and other family businesses remain shut down.

“Michigan restaurants have been closed to in-person dining for two months, and many of them will never reopen. It is heartbreaking to hear about business owners and unemployed workers struggling to make ends meet. The governor’s recent veto of unemployment relief and her ongoing shutdown make me wonder if she simply doesn’t care.”


Zorn calls on DHHS director to be held accountable for state’s poor vaccine efforts

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Friday excoriated Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her administration for failing to administer the COVID-19 vaccines in a timely manner and called for Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon to resign.

“It is an outrage that less than 2% of Michigan residents have been given the vaccine while over half a million doses sit unused in storage,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Throughout our state, people are dying from the virus, thousands of new cases are being confirmed, and many small businesses and workers are struggling to stay afloat due to the state’s lockdown orders — yet Michigan’s vaccination rate continues to rank among the worst in the country.

“We need action and accountability. I call on Director Gordon to resign due to the unacceptable vaccination results under his leadership and ask the governor to put in place someone who can quickly and efficiently administer the COVID-19 vaccine to save lives.”

As of Jan. 7, Michigan ranked 39th in the country in terms of the number of people administered the vaccines per capita, according to data tracking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The DHHS is in charge of the vaccine in Michigan. According to its online COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, the state has distributed 725,850 COVID-19 vaccines as of Jan. 6, but only 174,749 doses have been administered.


Zorn condemns U.S. Capitol terrorists

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement after hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers of the U.S. Capitol and breached the building, resulting in at least one person being shot and the House and Senate chambers being evacuated:

“I am appalled by the criminal actions at our nation’s Capitol, and I denounce the violence in the strongest terms possible. These domestic terrorists need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“This is a coup and not how America works. These rioters aren’t patriots; they are terrorists who are harming our country, our Constitution and our representative democracy.”


Zorn signs letter urging Congress to investigate election fraud and irregularities

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn has announced that he recently joined 10 other Michigan senators in sending a letter to members of Congress urging them to “pursue every available option and procedure to examine the credible allegations of election-related concerns surrounding fraud and irregularities.”

“It is critical to the future of our democracy and for the public good that we do everything within our power to restore faith and trust in our elections,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Our letter is about ensuring free and accurate elections, not overturning the will of the people. We have deep concerns regarding the ongoing investigation into the November election and the still incomplete audit by the Michigan Bureau of Elections. That is why I joined with my colleagues to ask Congress to immediately and objectively look into concerns about the recent presidential election.”

The Jan. 4 letter says, “Free and fair elections are essential to the long-term stability of our republic. Numerous allegations surrounding the 2020 election have made a considerable portion of the American public call into question the legitimacy of the electoral process in Michigan and several other states.”

It also requests that “the United States Congress and federal law enforcement, to the extent of their ability by law, conduct an objective and transparent investigation into credible allegations of misconduct in the 2020 election.”