Zorn comments on governor’s latest COVID-19 restrictions

LANSING, Mich. — After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Sunday that her Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) director issued a new emergency order reinstating several COVID-19 restrictions, such as shutting down in-person instruction in high schools, indoor dine-in service at restaurants and bars, high school athletics and other businesses effective Nov. 18 until at least Dec. 8, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement:

“The health of Michigan families is our absolute top priority. Like much of the nation, Michigan is experiencing a fall surge in COVID-19 cases. A crisis like this requires teamwork, but unfortunately, Gov. Whitmer is once again going it alone.

“Apparently, while we were talking with health care leaders and the governor’s administration about the best way to combat the latest virus surge, the governor was preparing to go it alone again and issue these new restrictions with no input from the people’s representatives.

“I am especially disappointed for high school student athletes who have worked so hard to meet the governor’s health policy, just to have the rug pulled out from under them. It’s another disappointment for students, families and the communities who have been playing sports with the proper safety protocols in place. If there is data that suggests sports is a spreader of the virus, then the governor should provide it. Evidently, collegiate and professional sports are not a spreader because they can continue playing.

“Gov. Whitmer is once again shutting down small, family-owned businesses that provide thousands of jobs — many of which may now be lost. Some businesses may never reopen their doors again after this latest shutdown. If there is data that shows these businesses are the cause of this most recent surge, then the governor owes it to everyone to share that information with the people of Michigan.

“I call on the governor to stop blaming others and circumventing the spirit of the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that encouraged her to work with the Legislature. I urge her to start communicating with her legislative partners before this state is in real ruin, and I remain ready to get to work together with her on this critical issue.”

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Zorn comments on House and Senate oversight committees’ action on elections integrity

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement on the House and Senate oversight committees voting on Saturday to issue a subpoena to the Michigan Bureau of Elections for records regarding the elections process:

“I strongly support the committees’ actions and work to protect the fairness, openness and accuracy of our elections.

“We are a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. Critical to that founding principle is that the people have a voice to pick their leaders, and we must do everything we can to preserve that right and ensure that the Michigan people can trust the outcome.

“The legislative oversight committees are acting quickly to protect the integrity of our elections. This is about doing proper oversight of one of our most cherished rights, not about overturning the election results.

“I look forward to the committees completing this important review as soon as possible and, if necessary, working with them to make any needed changes to ensure our state’s elections system is the best in the country.”

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Governor signs Trooper Adams memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to honor Trooper Rodger Adams, who was the 25th Michigan State Police officer to die in the line of duty.

“Our state troopers and local law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to keep us safe, and we too often take that for granted,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I want to thank the governor for signing this bill, which will honor the life and death of Trooper Rodger Adams — a husband, veteran and dedicated officer who was tragically killed while serving and protecting the people of Michigan.”

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

Former Lenawee County Commissioner Jim Driskill previously testified in support of Zorn’s bill.

The measure has no fiscal impact on the state or local government. State law requires private contributions to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining markers indicating the name of a memorial highway.

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Sen. Zorn supports COVID-19 protection measures

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted for several COVID-19 protection measures in the wake of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that struck down the governor’s coronavirus-related executive orders.

“We must work together, and my Senate colleagues and I have repeatedly said we’re ready and willing to partner with the governor to protect our state and the Michigan people. Unfortunately, the governor has consistently rejected our efforts,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, I hope the governor will join us in a cooperative fashion to protect families, workers and job providers from COVID-19.

“To begin this outreach for bipartisan solutions, I was proud to support bills to continue vital unemployment benefits for struggling workers, protect Michigan seniors in nursing facilities, and enable local governments officials to continue to meet remotely during the outbreak.”

Senate Bills 886 and 911 would continue unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks for eligible workers out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 1108 would allow boards of local governments and other public entities to meet electronically for a limited time and still engage the general public.

SB 1094 would reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing recommendations of the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. It prohibits the return of COVID-19-positive residents to nursing facilities unless they have recovered or if the facility has established a state approved and dedicated area to care for people with the virus.

“The governor previously vetoed similar bills regarding unemployment benefits and nursing home protections. I hope this time she will support the Michigan people and sign these important bills into law,” Zorn said.

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn denounces and condemns shocking plot against the governor and state government

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, issued the following statement Thursday after the FBI announced it thwarted a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the Michigan state government:

“The planned attack against our governor and our state is absolutely disgusting and appalling. There is no room for violence in our free society, and I denounce and condemn the groups responsible for this shocking plot.

“I also want to applaud and thank the FBI and state police for their great work to stop this act of terror and bring the terrorists to justice.

“My thoughts are with the governor and her family, and I pray for their continued safety.”

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Senate passes Zorn’s drug-death jurisdiction bills

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to allow a prosecutor to bring charges in the drug-overdose death of a resident in the county, even if the illegal drugs were purchased in another county.

“This is about helping local prosecutors seek justice and provide closure for local families dealing with the loss of a loved one to a drug overdose,” said Zorn. R-Ida. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan continues to face an epidemic of opioid addiction.

“I have worked together with the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and law enforcement leaders for a couple of years on this commonsense legislation to address our opioid crisis by punishing drug dealers.”

According to the governor’s office, opioid overdoses have killed 8,000 Michigan residents over the last five years, and the crisis has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic with calls to emergency medical services for opioid overdoses 22% higher from April to July 2020 than during the same period in 2019.

Senate Bills 20 and 21 would broaden the potential for prosecution of delivery of a controlled substance causing death to three possible venues: The county where the drugs were delivered, the county where the drugs were consumed, or the county where the victim died from using the drugs.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Allison Arnold of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office said, “If a Monroe County resident is killed by illegal drugs bought someplace else, we should still be able to seek justice in Monroe County, and that’s what these reforms will allow. I want to thank Sen. Zorn for his commitment and hard work on this issue. This came about due to a real case in our community, and all we’re asking for is to enable our community to take action if one of our own loses their life to drugs.”

Zorn’s bills are the result of a 2016 case involving the heroin-overdose death of a man in Monroe County. The cause of death was toxicity from fentanyl, which is sometimes used by dealers as a cutting agent to make heroin more potent. The dealer was charged in Monroe County with one count of delivery of fentanyl causing death. However, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction because the drugs were obtained in Wayne County.

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Zorn supports approval of FY 2021 state budget

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday voted to support a fiscal year 2021 budget plan that balances the state’s deficit and increases investments in important priorities like K-12 education and public safety.

“This budget balances the deficit in the wake of COVID-19 while still providing critical support to our schools and local governments — without raising taxes,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “At a time when our state and nation continue to face historic challenges, we worked together in a bipartisan way to pass a budget on time that provides important funding for services Michigan families use every day.”

Senate Bill 927 is an education omnibus budget featuring a $65 per student increase in state aid payments for all schools in addition to restoring the $175 per pupil reduction made to balance the FY 2020 budget. It also includes an additional $66 million for growing schools, $37 million for student mental health support and $3 million more for early childhood literacy.

House Bill 5396 is a general omnibus budget that increases local revenue sharing, fully funds the 2015 plan to help fix the state’s roads and deposits $35 million in the state’s rainy day fund. It also includes $20 million to ensure nursing homes have adequate personal protective equipment to protect staff and residents, $7 million to graduate at least 50 new state troopers and maintain trooper strength, $26 million for the Going Pro program to help train employees, and $30 million for Michigan Reconnect to help people complete an associate degree or skills certificate.

“Education and public safety continue to be top priorities, and this budget increases funding for schools to prepare our children for success and protects funding for local governments to support law enforcement and firefighters who protect all of us,” Zorn said. “This budget plan also supports our seniors, invests in our roads, and improves our economy.”

The budget bills now head to the governor for consideration. Michigan’s 2021 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

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Senate panel approves drug-death jurisdiction bills

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn to allow a prosecutor to bring charges in the drug-overdose death of a resident in the county, even if the illegal drugs were purchased in another county.

“As we continue to battle the epidemic of opioid addiction, we need to give prosecutors more tools to punish drug dealers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I have worked together with the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and law enforcement across the state for a couple of years on this commonsense legislation to help provide closure for families devastated by drug overdoses.”

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Allison Arnold of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office testified before the committee in support of Zorn’s bills.

“If a Monroe County resident is killed by illegal drugs bought someplace else, we should still be able to seek justice in Monroe County, and that’s what these reforms will allow,” Arnold said. “I want to thank Sen. Zorn for his commitment and hard work on this issue. This came about due to a real case in our community, and all we’re asking for is to enable our community to take action if one of our own loses their life to drugs.”

Senate Bills 20 and 21 would broaden the potential for prosecution of delivery of a controlled substance causing death to three possible venues: The county where the drugs were delivered, the county where the drugs were consumed, or the county where the victim died from using the drugs.

The bills are the result of a case involving the heroin-overdose death of a man in Monroe County in 2016. The cause of death was toxicity from fentanyl, which is sometimes used by dealers as a cutting agent to make heroin more potent. The dealer was charged in Monroe County with one count of delivery of fentanyl causing death. However, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction because the delivery of the drug occurred in Wayne County.

The bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.

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Zorn applauds Michigan letting fall sports play

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday applauded the executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a vote of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Representative Council to allow high school sports to be played this fall, including football.

“I am pleased that the governor and the MHSAA listened to all of us and have decided to give our high school student athletes the opportunity to play the sports they love and compete to be the best they can be,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “In addition to having fun and staying in shape, students in sports learn important lessons about teamwork, leadership and perseverance.”

Last Friday, Zorn participated in a “Let Them Play” rally on the steps of the state Capitol with coaches, parents, student athletes and supporters to urge the governor and the MHSAA to allow state high schools to play sports this fall.

“The process has been a very emotional roller coaster for everyone involved, more importantly the student-athletes,” said Rob Beaudrie, Erie Mason High School football head coach. “The support of the parents, coaches, ADs and superintendents has been outstanding to say the least. All these athletes have just witnessed how to never give up and settle and fight for what you believe in. A very, very important life lesson.”

Jayme Ansel McElvany, founder of the Let Michigan high school football play Facebook group and whose son plays for Milan High School, said, “My son is ecstatic! He never truly believed that this could happen. Even more than him getting his football back, I am thankful that he got to see how people stood up for their rights, fought for what they believed in, and trusted God through it all. I am even more happy for the other kids and families in this state than I am for my own! I can only imagine the smiles, tears and screams across the state right now, and it makes all of this so worth it.”

“I am so thankful for all of the parents who came together for the kids! It’s great to know we still live in a society where ‘We the People’ still have a voice,” said Stacy Johnson, superintendent of Britton Deerfield Schools. “Senator Zorn was with us in this fight from the beginning, and I am very grateful for the support and help for our children. This is the time of their lives!”

As a result of Thursday’s actions, high school football teams can start practicing next week and play games starting Sept. 18. Volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming and diving can begin Wednesday, Sept. 9 when gyms and pools are allowed to reopen statewide.

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Flags to be lowered in honor of Captain Liedel

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has granted Sen. Dale Zorn’s request to lower the U.S. flags in Michigan to half-staff on Monday, Aug. 31 in honor of Monroe Township firefighter Joseph Liedel.

Liedel died Aug. 23 at age 48 from injuries from a brain bleed suffered in the line of duty while responding to an emergency on July 31.

“Capt. Liedel’s true passion in life was to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a firefighter — joining the Monroe Charter Township Fire Department as a young man,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Over the course of his 28-year career, Joe earned the trust and respect of his fellow colleagues and became a captain. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he traveled to New York City with fellow Monroe Township firefighters to help at ground zero.

“Joe was well-liked and a true gentleman with a great sense of humor. He will be greatly missed by his friends, family, a brotherhood of firefighters and the entire community.”

Zorn sent the governor a letter on Thursday requesting the half-staff flag tribute on Aug. 31 to coincide with Liedel’s funeral. On Sunday, Whitmer approved the request.

“I thank the governor for helping recognize the years of service by this brave and honorable man as the people who loved him and served with him celebrate his life and say goodbye,” Zorn said.

Liedel was born in Monroe in 1972 and graduated from Monroe High School in 1990. The Joseph M. Liedel Memorial Fund has been established through the Monroe Charter Township Firefighters Association to assist other firefighters in need.

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