Michigan needs leaders.

For too long, this state had people at the helm that followed the “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. Look where it got us. As I reflect on the hardships the state has endured the past eight years, I am reminded of a saying: “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” Michigan needs leaders.

Thanks to Gov. Rick Snyder, we have a clear and reasonable roadmap for getting Michigan back on the road to economic recovery. His sensible plan calls for a shared sacrifice to bring state spending back under control.

I believe that legislators should lead by example. That’s why I sponsored Senate Bill 26, which will save the state roughly $5 million a year by eliminating lifetime benefits for state lawmakers. This obscene benefit should be done away with immediately. No one should receive lifetime benefits after only doing their job for six years.

I’m also working on a measure that would require all senators, representatives and the governor to pay 20 percent of their health care costs. If we are going to ask others to pay more toward their benefits, then we need to do so as well. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Gov. Snyder’s budget team has called for school employees to pay 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance. Currently, I pay about 7.6 percent for my health care benefits. It’s only fair that senators and representatives pay the same amount.

Additionally, at the beginning of this year Michigan senators and representatives took a 10 percent pay cut and our retirement packages have been changed to 401k plans.

The Senate is also leading by example in the search for cost savings. There has been a reduction in Senate office allotments and the number of employees each senator has on staff.

We can no longer continue kicking the can down the road. It’s time to face the facts and do what’s best for the state of Michigan and the hard-working taxpayers who call it home.

I hope my colleagues in the Senate and House support these vital measures and approve them quickly.

Photo Advisory: Sen. Jones assists Grand Ledge veterans project

LANSING — State Sen. Rick Jones, who raised $1,000 to help finish work on the Grand Ledge Vietnam Veterans Memorial (GLVVM) project, presents a check to local veterans Tom Dingler (from left), GLVVM Committee vice president; Duane Miller, Legion Commander; Linn Driver, GLVVM Committee member; Jones, R-Grand Ledge; Graydon Briggs, VFW GLVVM Committee member; and Richard Cup, VFW GLVVM Committee member. The veterans need $3,000 to complete the memorial, which they hope to unveil after the Memorial Day Parade.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph of Sen. Jones and local veterans is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s photowire.

 

Sen. Jones requests bill to make legislators, governor pay 20 percent of health insurance costs

LANSING — State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, has requested a bill be drafted to make all Michigan state legislators, the governor and lieutenant governor pay 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance.

Currently, Jones pays 7.6 percent of his health care costs and wants to see that number changed to 20 percent for all legislators.

“Governor Rick Snyder’s budget team has called for school employees to pay 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance. Senators and representatives must set an example and ensure we pay the same amount,” Jones said.

Jones has already introduced Senate Bill 26 to end lifetime retirement health insurance for senators and representatives after only six years of service.

Calling it “an obscene benefit,” Jones has asked Senate leadership for quick passage. Senators and representatives took a 10 percent pay cut as of January 1 and their retirement packages have been changed to 401K plans.

Sen. Jones receives AG opinion on state employee benefits

LANSING — Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, has received an opinion from the attorney general that the Legislature can overturn a Civil Service Commission ruling by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Jones had requested an opinion from the attorney general regarding recent activity by the Civil Service Commission, which ruled that live-in unmarried boyfriends and girlfriends of state employees could receive taxpayer funded health insurance. Any dependents of the boyfriend or girlfriend would also be covered.

The ruling was requested by Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration and a hearing was held late last year. Jones spoke at that hearing and asked the commission to not allow the benefit. The Granholm administration estimated it would cost taxpayers approximately $6 million. Jones said it could go much higher.

“I think it is outrageous that Civil Service commissioners appointed by Governor Granholm would try to force an additional burden on the taxpayers of Michigan when the state is in a crisis,” Jones said. “I believe this was a purely political decision by the commission, and I will be working with Senator Mark Jansen to bring this to a vote. We have a $1.8 billion budget problem and this only adds to it.”

The opinion concludes: “In summary, the Civil Service Commission’s decision to allow current classified employees to enroll an additional adult and dependents into the State Health Plan constitutes an increase in the rate of compensation, and as such requires notice to the governor, inclusion in his proposed budget transmitted to the Legislature, and may be rejected or reduced within 60 days of transmission of the budget by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to and serving in each house of the Legislature.”

Photo Advisory: Swedes feeds the Senate

State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, welcomes Rob Piercefield, president of the village of Mulliken, to the state Capitol. Piercefield also owns Swede’s Restaurant in Mulliken, which supplied sandwiches, soup and salad to the Michigan Senate in celebration of the passage of Jones’ first bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 19.

“I wanted to honor Rob Piercefield for all of his work in the community,” said Jones.

Piercefield supplies soup at his expense for a community meal in Grand Ledge, Portland, Sunfield and Mulliken. The community meals are for people who gather at area churches. Piercefield has served more than 32,000 meals.

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Editor’s note: The photograph of Sen. Jones and Rob Piercefield is available by clicking here.

Senate approves Jones ban on ergonomic mandates

LANSING — Legislation to ban administrative rules mandating workplace ergonomics rules in Michigan was approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones.

Senate Bill 20 would prohibit the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Association from enacting mandatory ergonomics rules. Voluntary guidelines would be allowed but can be no more stringent than federal guidelines.

“I’m glad this vital measure to save Michigan jobs was approved,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Ensuring Michigan job providers are not burdened with unnecessary mandates is a priority for me and Governor Snyder. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House on this bill.”

California, which just passed Michigan in unemployment rates, is currently the only state with separate mandatory workplace ergonomics rules. Ergonomics standards are indicated in the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines and companies must operate under these rules. The state of Washington previously mandated workplace ergonomics rules, but the law was overturned by voters there.

Gov. Granholm pushed for stand-alone Michigan standards during her two terms. In his first term in the House of Representatives, Jones passed a bill through the House and Senate stopping this but Granholm vetoed it.

Studies show that separate Michigan ergonomics rules could cost Michigan employers an extra $400 to $500 million.

SB 20 now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
 

Sen. Jones fights over-regulation

LANSING — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to ban any administrative rule mandating workplace ergonomics rules in Michigan was approved Wednesday by the Senate Economic Development Committee.

Senate Bill 20 is expected to be taken up soon by the full Senate and sent to the House of Representatives.

“Governor Rick Snyder called for this in his State of the State address. When this bill is signed by the governor it will send a strong message that Michigan is developing a better business climate so our children and grandchildren have jobs,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Companies and businesses looking at locating in Michigan will know that this is not an additional threat to their success. It also draws a strong contrast between former Governor Granholm who wanted more regulation and Governor Snyder who wants more jobs.”

California, which just passed Michigan in unemployment rates, is currently the only state with separate mandatory workplace ergonomics rules. Ergonomics standards are indicated in the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines and companies must operate under these rules. The state of Washington previously mandated workplace ergonomics rules, but the law was overturned by voters there.

Gov. Granholm pushed for stand-alone Michigan standards during her two terms. In his first term in the House of Representatives, Jones passed a bill through the House and Senate stopping this but Granholm vetoed it.

Studies show that separate Michigan ergonomics rules could cost Michigan employers an extra $400 to $500 million.
 

Jones working to ban deadly K-2 and bath salts

LANSING – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation Tuesday to ban dangerous synthetic drugs commonly known as K-2 or Spice and the measure will soon be taken up by the full Senate, said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

The synthetic chemical is made in Asia, sprayed on leaves, and sold in Michigan as a “potpourri” or incense.  Last year a law was passed banning the designer drugs, but a bill approved during lame duck session inadvertently removed the ban. 

Gov. Granholm wrote to the Legislature asking for it to be fixed right before she signed the flawed bill, which resulted in headlines around the nation. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jones, passed Senate Bill 99 to fix the mistake.

Jones also announced that a bill is being drafted to ban a new designer drug that is even more dangerous.  Sold as “bath salts,” the new designer drug is so dangerous that the Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH) has issued warnings. 

“The so-called ‘bath salts’ are even more dangerous because they can create violent behavior that not only harms the user but also could harm other people,” said Jones, a former Eaton County Sheriff. “This type of drug is sold by greedy people who make a profit at the expense of public safety.  I am asking parents to make sure that their children do not have either the K-2 type products or the bath salt designer drugs.”

According to DCH, the bath salts are being sold across the country as a crystalline powder online, at head shops, convenience stores and on the street.  These are not commercially manufactured bath salts that people purchase to use in the bath tub.  These products are sold with names such as Ivory Wave, Aura, ZOOM 2, Zeus 2, Cosmic Blast and White Rush. 

Hospital emergency departments in Michigan have reported 18 cases related to the use of bath salts in the past four weeks.  Many of the people treated in emergency departments have been young adults in their 20s and 30s.  Similar reports have been seen in states across the country.

“We are very concerned about the use of this dangerous product.  These stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain which can result in violent behavior and death,” said Dr. Gregory Holzman, MC, chief medical executive for DCH.

Bath salt products may contain a number of synthetic chemicals including Methylmethcathinone or Methlenedioxypyrovalerone (MDVP), both of which are strong stimulants that can cause increased heart rate, chest pains, dizziness, delusions, panic attacks, nose bleeding and nausea.  Patients ingesting these chemicals can be extremely paranoid and may not respond to usual calmatives.  Some have been involved in homicides and suicides while under the influence.  Many describe being chased by demons, gods, aliens or foreign soldiers.  Severe cases may require long-term psychiatric care.

Jones, Shaughnessy present special tribute to Kay Marsh

LANSING— Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte, present a special tribute to Kay Marsh honoring her service as treasurer for the Village of Vermontville.  Marsh was appointed treasurer in July 1966 and served in that post for 44 years before her retirement in 2010.

An active community member, Marsh raised her family and a successful business with her husband in addition to serving the people of the Village of Vermontville with great distinction. Marsh is also a member of the Grace Lutheran Church, Vermontville Historical Society and Vermontville Library Board.

Click here to view the photo.

Sen. Jones office is open for business

LANSING – Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, announced at 9 a.m. today that his office is open and ready for business.  Several media sources had reported that some people were upset with news reports that the Michigan Senate and House had closed down for two snow days.

“The Senate leadership decided to stop committee hearings for Wednesday and Thursday to safeguard all of the citizens that need to attend those hearings.  The decision was bipartisan,” said Jones. “I continued to work yesterday from Grand Ledge.  I answered e-mail, made phone calls, met with people in coffee shops and even took calls from two reporters.  I also offered to drive any emergency state employees into work.  My 2002 Ford Escape 4 x 4 provided great transportation driving around the Grand Ledge and Lansing areas.” 

Jones added: “Today I’m back at my desk; my staff is here; and I’m prepared for a full day of meetings.  Other senators are working from their districts and the work of the Senate continues to go on.