Zorn bill would honor Officer Darrian Young

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to honor Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Darrian Young, who died in the line of duty last June.

“Officer Darrian Young was a dedicated public servant and avid animal lover who tragically lost her life far too soon while serving the community she loved,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “It has been just over a year since her sudden death, but the shock of losing someone so full of life is still difficult to understand. As the people who loved her and knew her greave the solemn anniversary of her passing, I hope this tribute to her life will help us all remember her enthusiastic service to the people of Monroe County.”

Senate Bill 522 would designate a portion of Highway M-50 in Monroe County from South Raisinville Road to Herr Road as the “Animal Control Officer Darrian Young Memorial Highway.”

Young died June 6, 2020 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.

On the Tuesday following Young’s death, Zorn memorialized her 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.

SB 522 has been referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for consideration. If the bill is signed into law, it will have no fiscal impact on the state or local government. State law requires sufficient private contributions to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining markers indicating the name of a memorial highway.

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Whitmer should help replace Line 5 pipeline, not unilaterally shut it down

In May, a Russian cyber-attack on a major pipeline from the Gulf Coast to the New York region resulted in gas shortages in multiple states. When asked about using rail cars to transport fuel during the closure, former Michigan governor and current Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said, “pipe is the best way to go.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues her unilateral efforts to shut down the Line 5 pipeline without a viable and safer way to transport its energy resources to homeowners in the U.P. and refineries here in the Toledo and Detroit areas.

The governor announced she was revoking a 1953 easement that allows Enbridge Energy to run the dual pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac. Questions about her actions and if she even has the power to take those actions on an international pipeline are pending in both state and federal court.

However, if the governor is successful in her reckless attempts to shut down the pipeline, it would be devastating to our economy and the lives of millions of struggling families and small businesses.

It has been estimated that over 500 direct jobs at the Toledo PBF refinery could be lost and workers at the Toledo-area BP-Husky refinery and the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Detroit would also be affected. Union workers from the Toledo PBF facility came to Lansing in May to show their opposition to the governor’s efforts.

In addition to the lost jobs, shutting down the pipeline would affect millions of other Michigan families through increased prices for gasoline, products that rely on trucks to bring them to consumers and propane used to heat most homes in rural areas.

As a small business owner and avid outdoorsman, I understand the need to balance protecting our environment and supplying Michigan families with affordable and reliable energy.

In 2018, I supported legislation to replace the aging Line 5 pipeline with a new pipeline housed in a multiuse tunnel 100 feet under the straits. The tunnel would virtually eliminate any risk to the Great Lakes, and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy in January issued some of the permits required to build the tunnel — concluding it can be done in compliance with our environmental laws.

To transport these resources without the pipeline would require tens of thousands more rail cars and trucks as well as oil-carrying barges and tankers on the Great Lakes — at a much greater risk to our water and our people.

Instead of trying to unilaterally shut down Line 5, the governor should get out of the way and allow Enbridge to construct a tunnel — at its own cost — below the Straits of Mackinac as soon as possible and replace the existing pipeline with a new one safely in the tunnel.

As our former governor said, “pipe is the best way to go.”

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Zorn and his daughter outline need to help students in military families

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, and his daughter, Holly Zorn Lindsay, testified before the Senate Families, Seniors, and Veterans Committee on Wednesday about Senate Bill 530 to have Michigan join several states, including Ohio, in creating a Purple Star program to support students of military families when they move to a new school.

Zorn’s bill would require the state Department of Education to establish the Purple Star Program by 2023 and allow a local school district to become a Purple Star Designated School if they apply and meet certain requirements.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Zorn bill exempts homeless kids from 3rd-grade reading law

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to allow for an exemption to be considered for homeless kids under the state’s third-grade reading law.

“Homeless children face tough challenges — like not having a regular place to call home or not having enough food or clean clothes — and these can have an enormous effect on their ability to learn,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The lack of access to online educational resources adds to the problems facing young homeless students. My bill would allow these children to get a ‘good cause’ exemption instead of being held back if they are struggling with reading.”

Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law requires schools to identify and support students in Kindergarten through third grade who are struggling with reading and writing. Third graders may be retained if they are more than one grade level behind, unless a parent, guardian, teacher or coordinator requests a good cause exemption.

Senate Bill 528 would add the fact that the student is homeless to a list of allowable reasons for a good cause exemption.

“As the current law stands, homeless children are not included on the list of qualifying exemptions. Retaining homeless students will only add to the many stigmas they already face. Opportunities to partake in summer interventions with federally funded breakfast and lunch programs that are already in place are much more sound educational interventions for this population,” said Kyle Griffith, Lenawee Intermediate School District assistant superintendent of instruction and general services. “While the main suggestion in the law for intervention is a ‘Read at Home’ plan, it should be easy for us all to see how this may not be a solid option for our children without stable homes across the state. By amending the law and adding homeless children to the list of good cause exemptions, we are doing what is right, fair and just for these third-grade children.”

SB 528 has been referred to the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee for consideration.

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Zorn welcomes Monroe County veteran to Senate Memorial Day Service

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed retired U.S. Army Sgt. Samuel J. Struth of Monroe to the state Capitol on Tuesday as his special guest for the Michigan Senate’s 26th Annual Memorial Day Service, which honored Michigan’s fallen soldiers.

Struth grew up in Ida and enlisted in the Army in 1975. After attending basic and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO and paratrooper school at Fort Benning, GA, Struth was duty stationed with 548th Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg, NC. He served on numerous emergency relief missions, including flood cleanup in Virginia and West Virginia in 1979 and 1980 and earthquake recovery in Guatemala in 1976.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Zorn sponsors bill to help students in military families

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday introduced legislation to have Michigan join several other states, including Ohio, in creating a Purple Star program to support students of military families when they move to a new school.

“Many kids and families face significant challenges with learning gaps and disruptions as they relocate to new schools and communities due to a parent’s change in duty station assignment,” said Zorn. R-Ida. “These challenges can stem from a wide variety of issues, like differences in graduation requirements, problems with course placements, and difficulties with children connecting socially or emotionally at a new school.

“This bill would create a program in our state to help fill those learning gaps and keep these children on track toward graduation.”

According to the Military State Policy Source, the average military-connected child will experience six to nine different schools during their K-12 education.

Senate Bill 530 would require the state Department of Education (MDE) to establish the Purple Star Program in Michigan by 2023.

Under the bill, a local school district could become a Purple Star Designated School if they:
• Apply to MDE for the designation;
• Assign a staff member to be a military liaison;
• Provide additional information on the district website;
• Maintain a transition program for students;
• Require professional development opportunities for staff;
• Offer a resolution supporting military families; and
• Establish a partnership with a local military site.

Zorn said 30 other states have already created or are in the legislative process of creating a Purple Star program.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors, and Veterans Committee for consideration.

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Zorn cosponsors plan to fix over 400 bridges, increase railroad crossing safety

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday cosponsored new Senate legislation to use over $1.6 billion in federal funding to repair all Michigan bridges listed in severe condition and enhance safety at rail crossings in the state.

“As more Michigan businesses and manufacturers use trains to transport their products and materials, roadway crossings can become more dangerous and delays caused by trains blocking the road can increase,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Along with the rail separation measures I introduced in May, this plan puts $126 million into helping support local businesses, reduce emergency response times and virtually eliminate the chances for vehicles colliding with a train.”

Senate Bill 529 would use $126 million in federal recovery funds to improve safety at several intersections between railways and roadways.

The funding works with Zorn’s Local Grade Separation Grant Program bills. SB 425 would create a new program to provide state matching funds for local governments and the rail industry to transform a local roadway crossing so that road traffic would travel either over or under the railroad. SB 426 would establish a scoring system for determining which rail projects to fund, and SB 427 would create the Local Grade Separation Fund to reserve funds for these projects.

According to preliminary Federal Railroad Administration statistics, Michigan ranked 15th worst in the U.S. in 2020 for the number of collisions, injuries and fatalities at highway-rail crossings.

SB 529 would also use $1.5 billion in federal recovery funds to fix bridges across the state in severe condition. Of the nearly 12,000 bridges in Michigan, 7,038 are managed by local municipalities. Of that number, over 400 are in critical need of repairs. SB 529 would fund repairs for all of the bridges in severe condition.

“The MI Safe Drive plan represents a huge commitment to ensure we take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of the Michigan people,” Zorn said. “Under this plan, we would build on our previous road funding efforts, improve the safety of our roads and fix our aging bridges — all without asking struggling families and businesses to pay more in taxes.”

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Zorn applauds Blissfield Main Street grant

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn is applauding the recent announcement that the Blissfield Downtown Development Authority has been awarded a $20,000 Main Street Vibrancy grant by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“It is important to help enhance our downtown areas, which are often the heart of the community, as we improve our state for families, workers and job providers,” said Zorn, R-Ida “This grant will help Blissfield create a mini-park as part of an effort to strengthen its downtown, attract more people to the community center, and boost the quality of life for its families.”

Blissfield was awarded a $20,000 grant to support a mini-park revitalization and gazebo for food trucks, art events and outdoor gatherings.

The Main Street Vibrancy Grant Program is intended to provide grants to Select or Master level Michigan Main Street communities for projects that enhance the vibrancy and economic vitality of Michigan Main Street downtowns.

Blissfield is one of five communities around Michigan that were awarded a total of $100,000 in grants to support downtown enhancement and improvement projects on Friday. The other communities are Lansing, Owosso, Grayling and Three Rivers.

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Zorn sponsors Trooper Brown memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to honor Michigan State Police Trooper Herman Brown, who died in March from COVID-19.

“Trooper Herman Brown dedicated more than three decades of his life to serving and protecting the people of Michigan and Monroe County,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Trooper Brown served in the U.S. Marine Corps before returning to our state to become a state police trooper. Sadly, Trooper Brown lost his battle with COVID-19 earlier this year. This bill would help ensure we never forget his selfless commitment to our community and the real loss we have endured during this pandemic.”

Senate Bill 502 would designate a portion of Highway M-50 in Monroe County from Lewis Avenue to South Raisinville Road as the “Trooper Herman Brown Memorial Highway.”

“Herman Brown lived for service. The oldest of five children born and raised in Detroit, Herman took on the role of protector and mentor, even in childhood,” said Tracy Blackwell, Brown’s girlfriend. “Likewise, he served his community with the same dedication and heart he gave to his family and friends. He brought strength, humor, love and kindness to all that he did and to every life that he touched.”

In 2017, Brown was honored as Trooper of the Year, an annual law enforcement recognition event sponsored by the Monroe Exchange Club.

“Trooper Brown’s dedication and service to the citizens of Michigan will be missed,” said MSP First Lt. Greg Morenko, Monroe post commander. “Trooper Brown’s calm, professional demeanor and his signature smile will never be forgotten.”

SB 502 has been referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for consideration. If the bill is signed into law, it will have no fiscal impact on the state or local government. State law requires sufficient private contributions to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining markers indicating the name of a memorial highway.

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