Zorn secures $12M for downtown Adrian improvements

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday supported a $1.1B supplemental funding bill that invests in Michigan’s economy, communities, workforce and students. The measure includes $12 million for the city of Adrian to help transform its downtown and clean up the river.

“This is a huge investment in Lenawee County, and will help Adrian revitalize its downtown, improve outdoor recreation opportunities and protect local water sources,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “Our downtown areas are the heartbeat of our communities, and this effort will help attract more economic activity and people to downtown Adrian — which benefits everyone in the region.”

Senate Bill 844 features $12 million in grant funding to be used to work with the city of Adrian’s Downtown Development Authority to remove blight; incentivize new residential development; create new parks, open spaces, trails and other public amenities; and provide for river cleanup to improve recreation and drinking water.

“This local funding is part of a larger supplemental investment to use part of our $7 billion surplus to support our economy, create high-wage jobs, make college more affordable for struggling students and ensure our first responders experiencing PTSD or other mental health conditions get the care they need,” Zorn said.

SB 844 directs over $846 million into the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund which was created in 2021 to assist the state in attracting and retaining business and development. That funding includes over $233 million currently in the fund that will lapse at the close of the current fiscal year on Oct. 1.

The bill also includes $7.5 million to ensure access to mental health services for firefighters, police officers, emergency medical services personnel, dispatchers, local correctional officers, and those working on special teams such as internet sex crimes, sexual crimes against children, or traffic fatalities.

SB 842 would invest $12 million to provide literacy tutoring services and outline eligibility for the new $250 million MI Achievement Scholarship created as part of the fiscal year 2023 budget.

The scholarship would cover up to $2,750 per year for three years at a community college; a maximum of $5,500 per year for up to five years at a public university; up to $4,000 per year for five years at an independent or nonprofit college or university; and a maximum of $2,000 per year for up to two years at a qualified occupational training program or private trade school.

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Zorn, former Miss Michigan highlight bill to help children with hearing loss

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn, former Miss Michigan KT Maviglia-Morgan of Dundee and state hearing loss advocates highlighted new legislation on Wednesday to help ensure all Michigan children up to age 19 can get necessary hearing devices.

“Many Michigan school children struggle with hearing loss, which can affect their education and last a lifetime,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “Ensuring children with hearing loss can get a life-changing hearing device is about making sure that all students have the opportunity to succeed. I have been working on this issue for several years, but I will continue to fight for this coverage because the cost of inaction is too significant for children whose families cannot afford these devices.”

Senate Bill 1184 would require insurance coverage for hearing aids and related services that are medically necessary and prescribed by a physician or audiologist for children less than 19 years old. The maximum required coverage would be $3,000 per hearing aid every 36 months.

Zorn first introduced legislation on this issue in 2015 after working with Maviglia-Morgan, who was crowned Miss Michigan in 2014 with the platform “Listen Up: Advocating for those with hearing disabilities.” She was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss at age 9 and has two hearing aids.

“The cost of a hearing aid should never be a factor in a child’s education, and it is my hope that with this bill, no other children will have to go through the same struggle I did,” Maviglia-Morgan said. “With each year that students cannot afford a hearing device, they fall farther and farther behind and have to work twice as hard to make up for their loss. I am pleased to work with Senator Zorn on this legislation to help Michigan students reach their dreams.”

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 25 states have some form of requirement regarding commercial health insurers providing hearing aids to children.

SB 1184 has been referred to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee for consideration.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality version of the above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/photowire/.

Photo caption: Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Onsted, and former Miss Michigan KT Maviglia-Morgan were joined by hearing loss advocates to highlight Zorn’s legislation to provide Michigan children up to age 19 with necessary hearing devices through their health insurance. Maviglia-Morgan was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss at age 9 and has two hearing aids. Senate Bill 1184 would require insurance coverage for hearing aids and related services that are medically necessary and prescribed by a physician or audiologist up to $3,000 per hearing aid every 36 months. Pictured from left: Hearing loss advocates Sidney Kraizman, Janel Frost and Tressa Sanders; Zorn; Maviglia-Morgan.

Sen. Zorn celebrates grant for Onsted water system improvements

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday applauded a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) grant to support drinking water system upgrades in the village of Onsted.

“We must continue to invest in our aging infrastructure to protect our water and help ensure that everyone in Michigan has access to clean drinking water,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “The village’s planned water system improvements will ensure the safety of drinking water for area families and businesses for many years to come. I am grateful to EGLE for its grant assistance in support of our community.”

EGLE awarded a $922,500 Drinking Water Infrastructure grant to the village of Onsted to assist in funding a more than $3 million project to make improvements at the South Water Treatment Plant (WTP) and installation replacement and looping of 9,924 linear feet of water main. The village’s Park Treatment Plant will be demolished upon full completion of the upgraded South WTP.

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Trifecta! 3 Zorn bills taken up in three House committees

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn this week had three bills on three different topics taken up by three separate House committees.

The House Tax Policy Committee on Wednesday heard testimony on Senate Bill 727, which would extend weatherization assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through fiscal year 2026-2027. The LIHEAP is a federally funded program for heating, cooling and weatherization assistance.

“As Michigan families continue to face sky-high inflation, we need to do what we can to help them reduce their energy costs by improving their homes’ heating efficiency,” said Zorn, R-Onsted. “By continuing this effective program to improve home heating efficiency, we can help low-income families save money for important household needs and improve the overall efficiency of our state power supply — which can benefit all Michigan consumers.”

To ensure proper oversight of the program, the bill would also continue the current requirement that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services report to the Legislature by July 1 of each year on the operation and effectiveness of home heating and weatherization programs funded by LIHEAP.

The House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday took up SB 530 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. The bill would require the Michigan Department of Education to establish the Purple Star program in the state by 2023.

“Children in military families can often face huge learning challenges as they relocate to new schools and communities when their service mom or dad are assigned a new duty station,” Zorn said. “These challenges can range from graduation requirement differences to trouble connecting socially or emotionally at their new school. Creating a Purple Star program in Michigan would help meet these challenges and keep military children on track with their education.”

Earlier Wednesday morning, the House Transportation Committee approved 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,” Zorn said. “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.

SB 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.

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