Senate panel approves Zorn local public safety bill

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Local Government Committee on Thursday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help local communities fill first responder and public safety positions.

Currently in Michigan, a public servant of a township, city, village or county with a population of 25,000 or more cannot serve that community as an EMT, firefighter, police officer or public safety officer.

“In the 1990s, many rural Michigan townships were struggling to find candidates to be volunteer firefighters or EMTs, and the problem was aggravated by the fact that townships were banned from considering board members for these positions,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The law was changed in 1992 to provide more flexibility, but now townships just above the population limit are having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers to protect the public.”

Senate Bill 19 would expand the current population limit to 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.

“This simple reform would allow more local public servants — who are trained and willing to serve — to help save lives in their communities,” Zorn said.

SB 19 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.