Lawmakers welcome Battle of the Bulge veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale W. Zorn and Rep. Bronna Kahle on Thursday welcomed Michigan’s last two remaining survivors of the Battle of the Bulge to the Capitol, including Frank Dick of Lenawee County.

“In less than nine months, Frank Dick went from graduating from high school to being entrenched in one of the most famous battles of World War II,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Frank has led a remarkable life and has continued to build upon his service and leadership as a civilian. Next week, he will travel to Belgium and Luxembourg as part of an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. It is an honor to have him here to show our appreciation for his service.”

After his high school graduation, Dick enlisted in the U.S. Army and began basic training on June 6, 1944.

By mid-December, he was oversees serving as a replacement in Gen. Patton’s Third Army, 80th Division, 317th Infantry Regiment, Company I — famously known as the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys. His involvement in the division made him a participant in the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front.

On Feb. 19, 1945, Dick was injured by incoming mortar fire, suffering a 100% disability. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge, among others.

“Those who have served our great nation deserve our respect and recognition for their sacrifices,” said Kahle, R-Adrian. “Frank’s incredible desire to serve is acknowledged through his time as a soldier in World War II and as he continued to give back to those around him after returning home. It was an honor to have the opportunity to recognize Frank at the Capitol and thank him for his service on behalf of the state of Michigan.”

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

Photo caption: Sen. Dale W. Zorn, R-Ida, and Rep. Bronna Kahle, R-Adrian, welcome Frank Dick (center left) of Lenawee County to the Michigan Capitol. Dick is one of Michigan’s last two remaining survivors of the Battle of the Bulge. Victor Cross (center right) of Genesee County is the other remaining survivor and was the guest of Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, and Rep. Sheryl Kennedy, D-Davison.

**Photo Advisory** Panel OKs Zorn’s Trooper Adams memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, and former Lenawee County Commissioner Jim Driskill testified on Wednesday about Zorn’s legislation to honor Trooper Rodger Adams, who was the 25th Michigan State Police officer to die in the line of duty.

On May 14, 1971, Adams was killed instantly when his patrol car was hit nearly head-on by an oncoming car on U.S. 12 near Tipton Highway as Adams and his partner were responding to a traffic crash shortly after 1 a.m.

Senate Bill 132 would designate a portion of U.S. 12 in Lenawee County from M-52 to the Monagan Highway as the “Trooper Rodger M. Adams Memorial Highway.”

The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the bill, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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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 supports restoring many of governor’s budget cuts

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday voted to restore more than $570 million of the fiscal year 2020 budget vetoes and transfers made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“Due to the governor’s games, the state budget is now in overtime with the Michigan people hopeful for a positive result,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I supported this partial restoration of the governor’s cuts and transfers because this funding is critically needed by our local governments, students, veterans, vulnerable children and more. It’s not everything we need, but it’s a start to restoring a responsible budget for all Michigan residents.”

After signing the state budget, the governor issued a historic 147 line-item vetoes to cut nearly $950 million in funding approved by the Legislature. She then used an administrative board to transfer $625 million in additional funding.

Senate Bills 376 and 377 would restore a total of $573.5 million of the governor’s vetoed funding and administrative funding transfers, including $38 million for the Michigan Tuition Grant program, $1.6 million for autism, $4 million in county veterans services, $13 million for county sheriff secondary road patrols, $14.8 million for county jail reimbursements, and $35 million to restore the per-pupil increase for public charter schools.

“I was very disappointed with the governor’s budget actions. They were wrong and set a terrible precedent,” Zorn said. “Her cuts hurt real people. I support restoring this important funding, but I will also work on a solution to ensure that Michigan families are not leveraged again for political gain.”

If left unrestored, the governor’s cuts will mean nearly 900 Siena Heights University students and almost 700 Adrian College students would lose their tuition grant. The governor’s cuts to county sheriff secondary road patrols would cost Lenawee County $103,000 and Monroe County $147,305 — forcing the elimination of patrol positions — and the cuts to the County Jail Reimbursement Program would cost Monroe County $160,000 and Lenawee County $27,000.

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

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Local dog trainer testifies in support of Zorn’s emotional support animal bills

LANSING, Mich. — Cheryl Wassus, a certified Monroe County dog trainer and evaluator for about 30 years, testified before the Senate Local Government Committee on Thursday in support of Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to regulate the prescription of emotional support animals and requests for reasonable accommodation for the animals in housing.

Zorn, R-Ida, serves as chairman of the committee and sponsored Senate Bill 610, which specifies that someone cannot falsely represent themselves to housing providers as a person with a disability for the purpose of allowing a pet in a rental property as an emotional support animal. The bill outlines a standard for proper documentation of the need for an emotional support animal and potential penalties for violating the act. SB 609 would provide a clear distinction in the law between emotional support animals and service animals.

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Editor’s note: The above photographs are available by clicking on the images or by visiting Zorn’s website at: www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

New Line 5 tunnel is best way to protect the Great Lakes and great jobs

Since I joined the state Legislature in 2011, I have tried to put my real-world experience as a small business owner, local government official and avid outdoorsman to use to improve our state, protect our outdoors and help create good jobs for workers.

These three goals were the main reasons I supported legislation last year to replace the aging Line 5 pipeline currently on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac with a new pipeline housed in a multiuse tunnel 100 feet under the straits.

Construction of a tunnel to hold a replacement pipeline is the best long-term option to remove the existing 66-year-old pipeline from the Great Lakes and protect both our environment and our economy. The tunnel would virtually eliminate any risk to the Great Lakes while enabling the safe transportation of energy resources to homeowners in the U.P. and refineries here in the Toledo and Detroit areas.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s attorney general is trying to stop the construction of the tunnel and shut down the existing pipeline altogether. Closing the Line 5 pipeline without a viable replacement in place is irresponsible and could have a devastating impact to our state and region.

To transport energy 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 roads.

Officials at the Toledo Refining Co. have said that 550 jobs could be lost if Line 5 were to be shut down. Workers at the Toledo-area BP-Husky refinery and the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Detroit would also be affected.

In addition to the lost jobs, shutting down the pipeline without the tunnel to replace it would impact millions of other Michigan families through increased prices for gasoline, jet fuel at Detroit Metro Airport, and propane used to heat most homes in rural communities.

I regularly hear the concerns from local residents about the impact if the state shuts down Line 5 without the tunnel. Their concerns are shared by many area leaders, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who sent Gov. Whitmer a letter this summer urging her not to shut down the pipeline.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. In this case, that is to let Enbridge construct a $500 million tunnel — at its own cost — below the Straits of Mackinac, put a new Line 5 pipeline safely in it, and remove the existing pipeline from the Great Lakes.

Zorn bills would clarify need for emotional support animals

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday introduced legislation to regulate the prescription of emotional support animals and requests for reasonable accommodation for the animals in housing.

“This legislation would not impact the use of service animals or people who have a clear need for an emotional support animal,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The goal of this reform is to continue to support those who legitimately benefit from an emotional support animal while stopping those who are abusing the system just to get around rental property rules concerning pets.”

Senate Bill 610 would specify that someone cannot falsely represent themselves to housing providers as a person with a disability for the purpose of allowing a pet in a rental property as an emotional support animal. The bill outlines a standard for proper documentation of the need for an emotional support animal and potential penalties for violating the act.

Under the bill, the Department of Civil Rights would serve as the reporting body to accept complaints and reports of false representation via a telephone hotline.

SB 609 would provide a clear distinction in the law between emotional support animals and service animals.

SBs 608-610 have been referred to the Senate Local Government Committee for consideration.

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Zorn disappointed with governor’s ‘reckless and senseless’ cuts

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday said he’s disappointed with much of the governor’s line-item vetoes in the fiscal year 2020 budget, including cuts to roads, schools and public safety.

“After working on the budget since March and throughout the summer — then experiencing the governor walking out of negotiations — the Legislature passed a budget supported by Republicans and Democrats to support continued economic growth, educational opportunities, improved public safety, and nearly $400 million in additional road funding,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The balanced budget plan did it all without raising the gas tax by $2.5 billion on Michigan families.

“Instead of funding opioid recovery, autism programs and environmental protections such as combating PFAS at local airports, Gov. Whitmer made reckless and senseless vetoes to cut nearly $1 billion in funding from the budget — a political move that has led to upheaval in our state departments and will affect every Michigan resident and visitor.”

Upon signing the state budget, the governor issued a historic 147 line-item vetoes to cut $947 million in funding approved by the Legislature, including $128 million from the K-12 school aid budget, $13 million for county sheriff secondary road patrols, $37.5 million for the Pure Michigan tourism promotion program, $37 million for the Going Pro job training program and $10 million for rural jobs and development.

“It was bad enough that the governor promised to fix the roads and then vetoed $375 million in additional road funding, but then to tell state workers that ‘she had their back’ only to slash the budget unnecessarily is disgraceful,” Zorn said “Many of those employees are now waiting to see if her cuts will mean lay-offs while our communities face a lack of services including in public safety.

“In my 40 years of public service, I have never seen anything more politically motivated and recklessly achieved than Gov. Whitmer’s veto actions.

“Even after all of this, the governor is now asking the Legislature for a new spending bill to restore a small fraction of the very cuts she just made.”

Here is a list of some of the cuts that will directly affect Monroe and Lenawee counties:
• Eliminating the county sheriff secondary road patrol will cost Lenawee County $103,000 and Monroe County $147,305, which will force the sheriff to eliminate the patrol positions and re-assign the officers. The Monroe County sheriff has indicated he would discontinue handling calls for service, traffic enforcement and patrolling on I-75, I-275, US-23, M-50, M-125 and US-24. The state police would need to assume that responsibly.
• Eliminating the County Jail Reimbursement Program will cost Monroe County $160,000 and Lenawee County $27,000.
• Additional cuts to the Michigan State Police include $654,500 for local law enforcement training grants; $600,000 for traffic safety during Michigan International Speedway events, and $20 million to the Civil Air Patrol that covers fuel and maintenance costs for both counties.
• Cuts to the School Aid budget include $10 million for school safety grants, $35 million for charter school operations, $16 million for career and technical education (CTE) equipment, $2 million for schools to use local produce for student lunches, $3 million to the Michigan Education Corps reading program, $1.5 million for a teacher job bank to address teacher shortages, $1.5 million for the Algebra Nation and Imagine Learning programs, and $5 million for the CTE per-pupil incentive program that pays $50 per student in CTE.
• Cuts to the Michigan Tuition Grants will affect 17,000 students, including 656 students at Siena Heights University.

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High PFOS result near Deerfield Filtration Plant intake due to lab error

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) late Tuesday contacted Sen. Dale W. Zorn, Rep. Bronna Kahle, the village of Deerfield, and the Lenawee County Health Department to inform them that a high result in late August of PFOS contamination in surface water at the intake of the Deerfield Filtration Plant was due to a lab error at the Vista Labs facility in California.

“I want to remind residents that the treated drinking water showed no evidence of PFOS, so there was never an issue to their water,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “While the summer notification for area families was unfortunate, it is always best to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to our drinking water.”

Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS, can lead to adverse human health effects. Laboratory results received on Aug. 30 detected PFOS in a sample collected from EGLE’s monthly PFAS testing of the surface water at the intake to the Deerfield Filtration Plant. EGLE continues to test all public water systems with surface water intakes on a monthly basis.

The department said it is currently collecting weekly samples from Deerfield, Blissfield, Frenchtown and Monroe and results will continue to be monitored.

“All Michigan families should have access to clean drinking water,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “Although the residents of Deerfield now have the peace of mind that their water is safe, I am going to continue working hard to get answers from the state about the situation and to pass important reforms to improve our PFOS and PFAS testing.”

In 2017, the state created the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), which is leading state efforts in finding and managing the presence of these chemicals in local water systems and our response to their discovery. For more information, including test results, visit www.Michigan.gov/PFASresponse.

In June, Kahle led a bipartisan group of legislators introducing new reforms to Michigan’s PFAS/PFOS testing and response system. The groundwater quality package includes her bill, House Bill 4745, to deliver critical resources to the MPART effort and fund geological surveys that can find contamination before it enters municipal water systems.

Zorn and Kahle highlighted that the budget approved by the Legislature on Tuesday includes Senate Bill 137, which features $120 million for drinking water protections, including funds to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants and for a new private well testing grant program.

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Zorn supports sending balanced 2020 budget to governor

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has voted to send the governor a balanced fiscal year 2020 budget that increases investments in key priorities while living within the state’s means.

“Michigan families and job creators deserve a responsible state budget on time that provides the essential services people use every day,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This is a balanced budget that supports our students, invests in our roads, improves our economy and protects our water — all without the governor’s $2.5 billion tax increase.”

Senate Bill 137 features $120 million for drinking water protections, including funds to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants and for a new private well testing grant program.

“This funding will help ensure that Michigan families continue to have access to clean and safe drinking water,” Zorn said.

SB 149 would invest $5.4 billion in transportation in FY 2020, an increase of more than $2 billion since FY 2010.

“I regularly hear from residents that we need to invest more in improving the roads, especially local roads,” Zorn said. “This budget prioritizes existing tax dollars to increase funding by $400 million to help improve local roads and bridges.

“In addition to putting $400 million more in local roads, this budget increases school funding by nearly $400 million. If the K-12 budget is signed by the governor, most schools in Monroe and Lenawee counties will receive an increase of $240 per pupil as well as additional resources to control school retirement costs and improve access to skilled trades education.”

Last week, the Legislature finalized the school budget. House Bill 4242 would invest more than $15.2 billion in K-12 education, a boost of over $2.2 billion in school funding since FY 2011.

The budget bills given final legislative approval on Tuesday would also increase funding to local governments, train more state troopers and corrections officers, assist efforts to respond to public health hazards, and fund programs that support rural hospitals and help improve access to OB-GYN services in rural areas.

SBs 134, 137-139, 141, 144, 147 and 149 and HBs 4229, 4231, 4232, 4236, 4238, 4239, 4241 and 4242 will be presented to the governor this week.

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Zorn supports record K-12 school aid budget

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted to send a K-12 school aid budget to the governor that increases school funding to record levels without the governor’s proposed $2.5 billion gas tax increase.

“This K-12 budget increases school funding by $391 million to a record of $15.2 billion, which is over $2.2 billion more than when I joined the Legislature in 2011,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “If the bill is signed by the governor, we will be investing $304 million more in the foundation allowance. That means most schools in Monroe and Lenawee counties will receive an increase of $240 per pupil as well as additional resources to control school retirement costs and improve access to skilled trades education.”

Under House Bill 4242, Michigan schools would see a foundation allowance boost of between $120 and $240 per pupil, $522 million invested to help at-risk students, a $21.5 million increase in career and technical education funding, and a $60 million increase for special education.

“From the beginning of the budget process, I said we have a responsibility to the people of Michigan to enact a balanced budget using current revenues as work continues on achieving a long-term road funding solution,” Zorn said. “Sending the governor the K-12 budget is a step toward enacting a responsible state budget on time that invests in our students and roads, provides the essential services people use every day, protects our families and improves our economy.”

The Legislature will send the remaining budget bills to the governor next week.

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