Zorn reintroduces local public safety and justice bills

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has reintroduced legislation to help local communities fill first responder and public safety positions and to give county prosecutors greater ability to seek justice on behalf of their residents.

“My first bill of this term would allow more local public servants help save lives in their communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “In the 1990s, many small, rural townships in Michigan faced decreasing numbers of candidates for volunteer firefighters or EMTs. The problem was aggravated by the fact that board members — who were trained and willing to serve — could not be considered.

“Although the law was changed in 1992 to provide more flexibility, townships just above the population limit are now having the same issues in finding enough first responders and police officers to protect the public.”

Senate Bill 19 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. Currently, public servants of a township, city, village or county with a population of 25,000 or more cannot serve in those roles for that community.

Zorn also reintroduced to bills 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 growing epidemic of opioid addiction, we need to give prosecutors more tools to punish drug dealers,” Zorn said. “I have worked with the Monroe County prosecutor’s office and law enforcement across the state on this commonsense legislation.”

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 Court of Appeals ruled that the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction because the delivery of the drug occurred in Wayne County.

SBs 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.