Zorn applauds Sterling State Park improvement project

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday applauded the inclusion of a project at Sterling State Park in Monroe County in the first round of funding from a state infrastructure funding bill signed into law in March.

“Our state parks are valuable assets to Michigan — attracting tourists and providing families with outstanding opportunities to have fun outdoors,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “I was happy to have been involved in local discussions to secure the funding for Sterling State Park, which will be one of the first parks to receive support from the historic state park infrastructure funding we approved earlier this year to help make long-term improvements that will benefit Michigan families for generations.”

Senate Bill 565, now Public 53 of 2022, invests $4.7 billion in making critical improvements to the state’s infrastructure. The act includes over $1.7 billion to help communities improve their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, nearly $317 million to fix aging roads and bridges, $200 million for local park improvements and $250 million to make infrastructure upgrades at state parks.

The Department of Natural Resources has announced that Sterling State Park’s Heritage Trail will get $425,000 to stabilize the riverbank in preparation for resurfacing the trail. This is the first phase of an improvement project that will leverage federal funding to improve the slowly eroding embankment between the river and marsh lagoon. An additional $3.57 million is proposed in later phases for further investments in erosion control.

The improvement was one of 11 “shovel-ready” state park projects identified by the DNR for the first round of funding. The other state park projects in the first phase are in Bay, Cheboygan, Delta, Iosco, Mackinac, Ontonagon, Saginaw, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

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Sen. Zorn comments on U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Onsted, on Friday issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling regarding abortion:

“I strongly believe in protecting life, and I applaud this long-overdue decision. This is a great day for millions of Americans like me, who cherish all human life, including the unborn, and who value limited federal power over the states.

“The issue of abortion will now return to the states, and I am ready and willing to work with the governor and my legislative colleagues to find agreement on a moral, safe and responsible policy on this very personal issue — so that we celebrate all human life and support all Michigan families.”

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Sen. Zorn: Gov. Whitmer ‘failed miserably’ to reduce gas prices

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Onsted, on Wednesday issued the following statement after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to President Biden urging him to work with Congress to temporarily pause the federal gas tax more than two months after she vetoed House Bill 5570 that would have suspended Michigan’s 27.2 cents per gallon excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel from April 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2022:

“Gov. Whitmer failed miserably when she had a chance to reduce sky-high gas prices in Michigan. The Legislature passed a gas tax suspension bill back in March, and instead of helping provide important relief to Michigan drivers, the governor and Senate Democrats killed it.

“When it comes to providing tax relief, the governor says one thing and does another. She said she supports tax relief for families and seniors, but she has now twice vetoed efforts to cut income taxes for everyone in Michigan. Now, once again, she is asking Congress to suspend the federal gas tax despite having vetoed a bill to pause our state gas tax.

“All of this is happening while Michigan families are facing high inflation and gas prices, and the state is seeing a historic surplus estimated to be $5 billion more than projected in January.”

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Senate approves bills to support Michigan port infrastructure improvements

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday finalized a bipartisan legislative package designed to support improvements of Michigan’s ports and help them compete with ports in other Great Lakes states.

Two of the plan’s three bills — Sen. Dale Zorn’s bill and a House bill — were approved by the Senate at the end of May.

“Our ports are critical to our state’s economy and allowing them to service more ships would help reduce costs for Michigan businesses and consumers and provide more high-wage jobs for Michigan workers,” said Zorn. R-Onsted. “My bill allows our ports to use revenue bonds for projects that would enable them to handle more cargo, such as shipping containers. It is about standing up for Michigan jobs and making sure our ports, like the port of Monroe, have the ability to compete with other U.S. ports for cargo.”

In 2017, a report from Martin Associates in Pennsylvania found that 59.2 million tons of goods were moved through Michigan’s waterways, valued at $3.23 billion. The economic activity generated by commercial ports was $4.16 million, supporting 25,910 jobs and raising $763 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

Senate Bill 744, sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and approved by the Senate Wednesday, would create the Maritime and Port Facility Assistance grant program for port infrastructure projects. A grant awarded under the program may be used for public purposes, including direct port facility activity; overall maritime-related economic development or transportation opportunities in the port facility’s region; achieving or improving green marine certification; matching federal funding options; dredging waterways and harbors; repairing seawalls; transitioning to cleaner technology; or other projects related to port facilities as determined by the program office.

Zorn’s bill, SB 745, would allow port authorities to use revenue bonds for transportation-related improvements and further harness the efficiency of vessels on our Great Lakes.

House Bill 5291, sponsored by Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, would create the Maritime and Port Facility Assistance Office to provide technical assistance, develop a statewide strategic maritime plan and administer the state-level port grant assistance program created in SB 744.

SB 744 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration with the other two bills.

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Relief for families struggling with inflation, gas prices

Families in Monroe and Lenawee counties and across our state are dealing with the highest inflation in 40 years and gas prices that have skyrocketed to record levels.

Inflation has a real and direct impact on people’s lives — as the costs of virtually everything increases faster than family budgets can keep up.

From May 2021 to May 2022, grocery prices increased by nearly 12% — the largest 12-month increase since 1979. The costs of meats, poultry, fish and eggs increased 14.2%, with the price of eggs alone jumping by 32.2%.

The summer cookout is an illustration of inflation’s impact. The price of ground beef is up 14.8%, bacon is up 17.7%, cheese costs 6.5% more, lettuce is up 12.7%, pickles are up 9.3% and the hamburger buns will cost eaters 10% more this year.

At the same time, everyone, from workers and seniors to schools and small businesses, is feeling the pain of record high gas prices.

According to AAA, the average per gallon price for regular gasoline in Michigan was $5.22 on June 11 and the average diesel price on June 15 was $5.85. Both prices are the highest recorded average prices in state history.

At these prices, it costs workers over $193 to fill up their Ford F-250 truck with diesel fuel and parents will need to pay $94 to gas up the family Chrysler minivan.

My Republican colleagues and I saw what was happening and took action. We passed two commonsense plans to reduce inflation’s impact on Michigan families by allowing everyone to keep more of what they earned and by providing significant relief at the gas pump.

Unfortunately, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed both of these sensible relief proposals.

Undeterred, we passed a second plan to help every Michigander by lowering the state’s income tax to 4%, increasing the personal income tax deduction by $1,800, creating a $500 tax credit for each child under the age of 19, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, and boosting the tax exemption for Michigan seniors over 67 to $21,800 for individuals and $43,600 for couples.

The governor recently vetoed that plan, which would have provided taxpayers with roughly $2.5 billion in income tax relief.

The Senate also passed a plan to suspend the state’s 27.2 cents per gallon excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel and Michigan’s 6% sales and use taxes on motor fuel from June 15 to Sept. 15.

The bill would hold local governments and public schools harmless while saving drivers over $800 million at the pump throughout the summer driving season.

Our state is seeing a historic surplus that was recently estimated to be $5 billion more than projected four months ago.

Efficient use of taxpayer dollars has put us in a position where we can afford to provide this critical relief — and there’s no better time than now when folks are struggling with the skyrocketing costs of everyday items.

I respectfully ask the governor to join the Legislature and put people over government spending by supporting these affordable and responsible efforts to reduce the burdens on Michigan families trying to make ends meet.

Sen. Zorn honored by Michigan optometrists

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn was recently honored with the 2021 Friend of Optometry Award by the Michigan Optometric Association during the organization’s annual Great Lakes Eyecare Conference in Detroit.

“It was an honor to be recognized for helping ensure Michigan families continue to receive the eye care they need and have access to affordable glasses and contacts,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “I look forward to continuing to work with our optometrists to help them provide their patients with excellent eye care for years to come.”

Michigan Optometric Association President James Hardie, OD bestowed the award to Zorn in tribute to his support of eye care professionals and patients during his tenure in the Legislature.

Zorn has sponsored legislation to exempt the sale or purchase of contact lenses from the sales and use taxes and supported the creation of the Eye Care Consumer Protection Law that defined what constitutes a prescription for glasses or contacts.

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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, is presented the 2021 Friend of Optometry Award by Michigan Optometric Association President James Hardie, OD on the Detroit Princess riverboat during the organization’s annual Great Lakes Eyecare Conference in May. Zorn was recognized for his support of eye care professionals and patients during his tenure in the Legislature.