Zorn bill gives flexibility to more local governments

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

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

“In the 1990s, many rural townships faced decreasing numbers of candidates for volunteer firefighters or EMTs, and it was only made worse by having to take board members — who were trained and willing to serve — out of consideration,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The law was changed in 1992 to provide flexibility to townships under 25,000 people. Unfortunately, local governments just above that limit are having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers.

“This reform will allow additional local public servants to help save lives in their communities.”

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.

As approved by the committee, SB 605 would enable local governments with up to 40,000 residents have board or council members serve the local government as EMTs, firefighters, police officers or public safety officers.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.