Sen. Zorn supports gas tax suspension package

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted to suspend the state’s excise, sales and use taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels for three months to provide relief to Michigan drivers.

“This plan would give important relief to Michigan families who are dealing with high inflation and gas prices that have skyrocketed to record levels — making it harder for many of them to make ends meet,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “While many Michigan residents are struggling with everyday costs, our state is seeing a historic surplus — that was recently estimated to be $5 billion more than projected four months ago. This is affordable, responsible and the right thing to do.”

The state of Michigan currently imposes a 27.2 cents per gallon excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, and the price of both fuels are subject to Michigan’s 6% sales and use taxes.

Senate Bill 1029 would suspend the state’s excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel from June 15 to Sept. 15. It would also provide $300 million for local governments to cover revenue lost during the gas tax pause.

SBs 972-974 would suspend the state’s 6% sales and use taxes on motor fuel for the same time period.

According to AAA, on May 19, the average price per gallon for regular gasoline in Michigan was $4.58 and the average diesel price was $5.27.

Both prices are the highest recorded average prices in state history.

Officials at the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference on May 20 revised state revenue projections up nearly $3 billion for the current fiscal year and up over $2 billion for next year. That is $5 billion more than the previous surplus estimate.

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration

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Senate passes Zorn bill to exempt tow trucks helping drivers from spring weight restrictions

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday unanimously approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to exempt tow trucks and wreckers from seasonal road weight restrictions while servicing a disabled vehicle.

“Michigan is one of many states that have spring weight restrictions to help protect roadways during the annual thaw, but these restrictions should not come at the expense of driver safety,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “Disabled vehicles on the side of the highway present a danger to passing traffic and to the people in the vehicle. This bill will allow Michigan tow trucks and wreckers to safely and efficiently service disabled vehicles and help their passengers at all times.”

The Michigan Vehicle Code currently has seasonal road weight restrictions during the months of March, April and May. The restrictions include reduced maximum axle load, reduced wheel load and reduced speed limits.

There are several vehicles exempt from the seasonal weight restrictions, including vehicles transporting agricultural goods, public utility vehicles, school buses, residential propane delivery vehicles, and milk trucks.

Senate Bill 640 would add tow trucks and wreckers to the existing list of vehicles exempted from the seasonal road weight restrictions. The exemption would only apply when the truck or wrecker is towing a disabled vehicle or traveling to or from servicing a disabled vehicle.

The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn supports measure to provide tax relief, battle back against inflation

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted in favor of a plan to reduce the tax burden on Michigan workers, seniors and veterans.

“The state is sitting on a surplus of funds and Friday’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference is expected to bring even more good news about state revenues,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “Responsible, efficient use of taxpayer dollars has put us in a position where we can afford to provide tax relief — and there’s no better time than now when folks are struggling with the skyrocketing costs of everyday items.”

The MI Family Inflation Relief Plan would help every Michigander by lowering the state’s income tax to 4% and increasing the personal income tax deduction by $1,800. It would also support Michigan families by creating a $500 tax credit for each child under the age of 19 and seeks to help reduce the significant burden inflation has caused to lower-income families by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit.

House Bill 4568 and Senate Bill 784 would also increase the tax exemption for Michigan seniors over 67 to $21,800 for individuals and $43,600 for couples and ensure Michigan’s fully disabled veterans and the spouses of those lost in combat a 100% property tax exemption.

“This legislation lets Michigan workers keep more of their hard-earned money, gets government out of the pockets of seniors who spent a lifetime building their savings and provides help to families across the state who are struggling to make ends meet,” Zorn said. “I was proud to support this legislation today and I hope the governor will finally get on board and hear the calls for help coming from every corner of the state.”

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Zorn honors 3 state champion Hudson High School teams

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday honored three state championship teams from Hudson High School at the Michigan Capitol.

“With three team state titles, it has been an amazing and historic school year for the Hudson Tigers,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “It was an honor and a great privilege to welcome these outstanding student athletes to the state Capitol and recognize them during Senate session for their championship efforts. While cheer, football and wrestling are very different, these young men and women all showed the same ability and determination to achieve their goals. They are an inspiration to their school and the entire community.”

In November, the Hudson football team and Head Coach Dan Rogers won the Division 8 state championship by beating Beal City 14-7 at Ford Field, completing an undefeated 14-0 season.

In February, the Tigers wrestling team and Head Coach Scott Marry earned their ninth Division 4 state title since 2009 with a 47-13 win over New Lothrop at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.

In March, the Hudson competitive cheer team and Head Coach Kelly Bailey won their third-straight Division 4 state championship at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids.

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

Photo caption: Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Onsted, welcomes three state championship teams from Hudson High School to the Michigan Capitol. Zorn recognized the Tigers football, wrestling and competitive cheer teams for earning state titles during the 2021-22 school year. The teams are led by head coaches Dan Rogers, Scott Marry and Kelly Bailey, respectfully.

Zorn supports Lenawee County project in trust fund bill

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday supported approval of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) projects for 2022, including improvements to Mitchell Memorial Park in Lenawee County.

“The Michigan people created the Natural Resources Trust Fund over 45 years ago to invest constitutionally restricted funds to improve our access to our great outdoors,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “This measure includes funding to enhance Mitchell Memorial Park for Lenawee County families to enjoy for decades to come. In doing so, it will also help encourage healthy lifestyles and attract new opportunities to our region.”

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. Since its inception in 1976, the trust fund has been used to support 2,715 projects totaling $1.3 billion.

Senate Bill 1028 would authorize the NRTF to use $45.6 million in restricted funds to support 22 acquisition projects and 95 development projects. Matching funds of $39 million would bring the total investment to $84.6 million.

The bill includes $267,300 for a $361,300 development project to renovate shelters and restrooms at Raisin Charter Township’s Mitchell Memorial Park in Lenawee County. The project also includes new pathways to connect the parking areas, shelters and ball fields.

SB 1028 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn’s bill to help students in military families approved by Senate

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s 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.

“Children in military families can often face huge learning challenges and disruptions as they relocate to new schools and communities when their service mom or dad are assigned a new duty station,” said Zorn. R-Onsted. “The challenges military kids face can result from simple issues like graduation requirement differences and problems with course placements and complex issues like trouble connecting socially or emotionally at a new school.

“This bill would create a Purple Star program in Michigan in an effort to help meet these challenges and keep military children on track toward completing their education.”

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 Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to establish the Purple Star Program in the state by 2023.

Under the bill, a school could receive a Purple Star designation 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; and
  • Require professional development opportunities for staff.

A school would also need to offer a resolution supporting military families or establish a partnership with a local military site.

Zorn said 21 other states have already created a Purple Star program and Michigan is one of 18 others that are in the legislative process of creating one.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn reminds residents of M-50 road work

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn is reminding drivers in Lenawee and Monroe counties of newly started road improvement work on M-50, also known as Monroe Road, between Tecumseh and Springville.

“It is important to our community and our state for us to invest more to fix our roads, yet we also must deal with certain construction delays as workers make the necessary road improvements,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “I want to remind area families that work on M-50 west of Tecumseh started on Monday and is expected to last until July 1. Some daytime lane closures are expected during the construction, so please keep that in mind and slow down to protect the lives of the workers.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation is investing approximately $1.2 million to improve nearly five miles of M-50, from Nortley Highway to M-52 (Adrian Highway).

For information on construction work zone safety, visit www.Michigan.gov/WorkZoneSafety

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Helping build better communities

I have worked hard as your senator to help strengthen our economy by concentrating on fiscal sustainability and business growth and by reinforcing education through STEM and career technologies.

While we have much to do, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved for Lenawee and Monroe counties. In this column, I’ll highlight some support we delivered for Lenawee County. I’ll highlight the Monroe County support in a later column.

As a strong advocate for investing in in­frastructure, I was able to secure over $100 million in direct investments to Lenawee County that included job training, road and downtown improvements, business incubators, and blight elimination through housing, sewer and wastewater projects and drinking water initiatives.

Matching private investments provided an additional $25 million and 400 new jobs.

We helped recruit PlaneWave Instruments to relocate from California to Adrian to manufacture high-end telescopes, supported a $22 million economic development grant for Morenci to help provide job training for a KAMCO Industries expansion project, and secured a $32 million grant for an Inteva plant expansion to support new automotive technologies.

Lenawee Now received a $190,000 grant for a business incubator program in the new Adrian/Tecumseh SmartZone, which also was awarded an $80,000 grant through the competitive Michigan Build Ready Sites Program.

The city of Adrian was selected to participate in the Michigan Main Street Program, received a $1.45 million grant for renovations to six downtown buildings, and earned a $2.9 million grant for blight elimination, historic preservation and rental rehabilitation at the Strongback Four Corners Redevelopment project downtown.

Tecumseh got a $1 million grant and a $1 million loan to address brownfield conditions at the former Tecumseh Products facility, where the company is mediating contaminated soil and groundwater. The $25 million project will convert the 55-acre site into a useable open space.

Roads are critical to our economy and daily life. Lenawee County received $5.5 million to create a 9.7-mile primary route between M-52 and US-223 and a $375,000 grant for work on the Tecumseh-Clinton Highway. Tecumseh got a $369,234 grant for work on South Evans Street, Morenci and Cement City were awarded small-town road funding grants, and Adrian got a $7 million grant to build a pedestrian tunnel under M-52.

The city of Hudson received a $5.2 million low-interest loan for improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and collection system, and Tecumseh got a $1.76 million low-interest loan for the rehabilitation of its sanitary sewer and the replacement of an electrical transformer and a pump station.

We also secured a $2 million infrastructure grant for Morenci to reconstruct water and sanitary sewer mains, resurface three streets, and complete a rebuild of a lift station and iron removal filter system.

To increase the enjoyment of our great outdoors, I helped secure a $300,000 grant toward the Kiwanis Trail project to connect Adrian and Tecumseh with 7.7 miles of paved, dedicated trail.

Education is critical to our future, and I was proud to serve on the Michigan STEM Advisory Council, secure a $76,000 grant to purchase a CNC plasma cutting system for Lenawee ISD student training, spearhead a group of K-12 teachers and administrators to develop a program to provide remedial math opportunities, and work with Madison and Hudson schools to secure state construction permits to build a stadium press box.

Law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs are our first responders and must have the tools, training and support to protect our communities. I was successful in implementing laws to protect our first responders, including passing Public Act 349 of 2018 to update the Move Over Law and PA 203 of 2015 dealing with firefighter certification reciprocity with other states.

I also supported the creation of the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund for firefighter work-related cancer treatment, secured funding for additional state police at Michigan International Speedway events, and passed measures to dedicate memorial highways in honor of State Troopers Roger Adams and Calvin Jones.

These are just a fraction of the efforts we have made over the last seven years. The governor recently signed a $4.7 billion infrastructure supplemental that will also add to these achievements.

As we work to pass a budget for next year, I will continue to focus on investments that help improve our communities and our state for years to come.

For a more detailed report, contact my office at (517) 373-3543 or via e-mail at [email protected].

Senate panel OKs Zorn bill to help students in military families

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn’s 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 was approved Tuesday by the Senate Local Government Committee.

“When military service men or women are assigned a new duty station, their children often face significant challenges with learning gaps and disruptions as they relocate to new schools and communities,” said Zorn. R-Onsted. “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.

“My bill would create a Purple Star 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 school 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; and
  • Require professional development opportunities for staff.

A school would also need to offer a resolution supporting military families or establish a partnership with a local military site.

Zorn said 21 other states have already created a Purple Star program and Michigan is one of 18 others that are in the legislative process of creating one.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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Zorn supports Senate’s 2023 state budget plan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn this week voted for a Senate budget plan for fiscal year 2023 that increases record K-12 school funding and dedicates resources to provide tax relief to Michigan families.

“The Senate budget plan prioritizes building a brighter future in Michigan while also providing much-needed tax relief for families struggling to make ends meet in the face of the highest inflation in 40 years,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “In addition to directing funds to fix local roads and support Michigan workers, we are building on our historic commitment to K-12 education. Helping our students get a great education is critical to the future of our state, and this budget increases our record level of school funding by over $860 million — including $70 million to help address learning loss due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

“While focusing on educating our kids, energizing our economy and keeping our communities safe, our plan includes funding to reduce the tax burdens on hardworking Michigan families.”

Senate Bill 832 would invest $17.9 billion in K-12 education, a total increase of $938 million. After making history last year by closing the per-pupil foundation allowance gap between schools, the Senate plan would use $630.5 million to increase the minimum foundation allowance by another $450 to $9,150 per student.

Zorn said to help students beyond high school, SB 842 would provide $361 million for a new Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which would cover up to $3,000 annually at a community college or $6,000 annually at a university.

The budget plan increases support to $55 million for the Going Pro program to provide grants to support employee training, provides $40 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to assist people seeking an associate degree or a trade certificate, invests $41.7 million to improve access to dentists for low-income families, and invests nearly $2 billion in local government transportation funding to help fix local roads.

The plan also prioritizes more revenue sharing for local governments, a $1 million increase for Secondary Road Patrol grants to help support emergency response and traffic enforcement on local county roads, and more resources to train and hire 170 new state troopers.

SBs 827-843 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.