Senate approves Zorn local public servants bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn to help local communities fill first responder and public safety positions.

“This reform is about allowing additional local public servants to help save lives in their communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Many small, rural townships in Michigan faced decreasing numbers of candidates for volunteer firefighters or EMTs in the 1990s. The problem was made worse because the townships could not consider board members who were trained and willing to serve.

“To help protect the public, the law was changed to provide flexibility to townships with fewer than 25,000 people. Unfortunately, local governments just above that limit are now having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers.”

Senate Bill 605 would raise the population threshold for the Contracts of Public Servants with Public Entities Act from 25,000 to 40,000. Currently under the act, public servants of a township, city, village or county with a population of 25,000 or more cannot serve as emergency medical services personnel or a firefighter for that community.

The bill would enable local governments with up to 40,000 residents to have board or council members serve the local government as EMTs, firefighters, police officers or public safety officers.

SB 605 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.