Senate resolution urges support for Cuban people’s fight against communism

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced a Senate resolution declaring support for the people of Cuba in their fight against that nation’s communist regime and urging the U.S. government and the Biden Administration to take action to protect the basic human rights of the Cuban people.

“Cuban President Díaz-Canel has continued the failed policies of Fidel and Raúl Castro — resulting in an economic crisis and systematic repression of the Cuban people,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “As Americans we understand the value of freedom and self-determination. We are seeing the Cuban people courageously protesting the brutal Communist regime and demanding free and fair elections and personal liberty. We support their fight and urge President Biden to do everything our government can to protect them.”

Senate Resolution 78 says, “the people of Michigan support the right of the people of Cuba to peacefully protest to secure basic civil liberties and stand with the people of Cuba in support of their quest for democracy, liberty, and freedom.”

It also says that “without democracy and free elections, the welfare of the Cuban people will continue to be structurally burdened and protests will continue. As the Communist regime continues to deprive the people of Cuba of peaceful means to improve their lives, everyday Cubans will continue to risk their lives and well-being to protest openly to demand immediate change.”

Zorn said, “The Cuban people are standing up for freedom now and for future generations, and the U.S. should be standing with them.”

If adopted by the Senate, copies of SR 78 will be sent to President Biden, the speaker of the U.S. House, the president of the U.S. Senate, and members of the Michigan Congressional delegation.

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Zorn votes to support Unlock Michigan petition repealing law abused by Whitmer

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted for the Unlock Michigan citizen-led petition to repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act.

“The people of Michigan should never again be silenced when decisions are being made that directly impact their lives and livelihoods,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Last year, the governor chose to try to keep her total, unilateral power over virtually every aspect of life instead of working with the Legislature on ways to address the pandemic and protect our families.

“The courts have already declared the law as unconstitutional, but the only way to ensure it is never abused again is to repeal it entirely. Thanks to the hard work of dedicated citizens, that is exactly what this initiative will do.”

Last October, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Whitmer overstepped her authority by continuing to issue emergency orders without the approval of the Legislature and that the 1945 law was unconstitutional.

After Senate approval, the Unlock Michigan petition still needs to be taken up by the House of Representatives. If approved by the House, the 1945 law will be repealed. The governor has no authority to veto or otherwise block the petition.

If the 1945 law is repealed, the governor can use emergency powers under a separate 1976 law that limits the emergency powers to 28 days unless granted more time by the Legislature.

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Zorn supports $1.6B transportation infrastructure plan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted to invest $1.6 billion in federal recovery funding to repair Michigan bridges listed in severe condition, support local roads and enhance safety at rail crossings in the state.

“We owe it to the people of Michigan to wisely use our state’s federal recovery funds to make long-term investments that improve their lives,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This transportation infrastructure funding would fix hundreds of aging bridges throughout Michigan — including more than 20 in Monroe and Lenawee counties. If finalized, this plan would be a historic commitment to improve the safety of our roads for families, workers and tourists.”

Senate Bill 529 would use $1.3 billion in federal recovery funds to fix bridges across the state in severe condition through bundling, where the design and construction of multiple projects around the state are contracted at the same time. 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 the bridges in severe condition.

The bill also includes over $195 million to cover local road agency revenue losses and $126 million to improve safety at several intersections between railways and roadways.

The funding would work with Zorn’s Local Grade Separation Grant 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.

Michigan has over 4,000 rail crossings with public highways within the state, and in 2020, was ranked the 15th worst in the nation for the total number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail crossings.

“Combined with the rail separation measures I introduced in May, this funding plan would help support local businesses, reduce emergency response times and virtually eliminate collisions with vehicles and trains,” Zorn said.

SB 529 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn supports historic K-12 budget

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday voted to support a K-12 school budget that would increase school funding a record $17 billion. The bill now heads to the governor.

“Educating our children is one of the most important investments we can make, and this historic K-12 budget illustrates our commitment to ensuring all Michigan students get the education they need to be successful,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “We are increasing school funding to a record $17 billion, which is over $4 billion more than when I joined the Legislature in 2011.

“Under this budget, every school district across Michigan will finally receive the same amount in minimum per-pupil foundation allowance funding from the state. For some schools, that means an increase of $589 per student.”

House Bill 4411 includes a $683 million boost to bring every Michigan school district’s foundation allowance up to at least $8,700 per student.

The bill invests a total of $17 billion in K-12 education, including $362 million for equalization payments, $7.5 million for career and technical education equipment, $10 million in school safety grants, and $240 million to help schools hire mental health professionals to help students dealing with anxiety and depression.

HB 4411 also features a nearly $169 million increase to improve access to preschool, reduce class sizes and hire highly qualified teachers.

“To help students recover from any learning loss when schools were closed to in-person instruction, this budget includes $155 million in reading scholarships and additional resources for schools that adopt a year-round schedule,” Zorn said.

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