Sen. Jones welcomes local pastors to Capitol

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, (center) welcomed Revs. Dr. William and Barbara Beachy of Trinity United Methodist Church in Delta Township to the state Capitol Wednesday. The Beachys led members of the Michigan Senate during the invocation and afterward joined Jones on the Senate floor for session.

Editor’s note: The above photograph of Sen. Jones, and William and Barbara Beachy is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s photowire at: http://www.MISenateGOP.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=24.

 

Senate panel votes to ban felons from dispensing medical marijuana

LANSING — Legislation designed to crack down on the lax regulation of medical marijuana was approved by a Senate panel Tuesday, said Sens. Rick Jones and Tonya Schuitmaker.

“Under federal law, schools are ‘Drug Free Zones’ and it’s only logical that we would clarify in state law that medical marijuana cannot be distributed close to where our children attend classes,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Similarly, it makes sense to extend the ban to churches, since many run drug rehab programs.”

Senate Bill 504 prohibits the selling of medical marijuana at facilities often known as “dispensaries” within 1,000 feet of a church/place of worship or school zone. SB 505 would prohibit convicted felons from registering to be caregivers and selling medical marijuana at dispensaries.

Under current law, individuals convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs are not allowed to become primary caregivers for medical marijuana patients.

“Marijuana was approved by voters strictly for medicinal use,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Therefore we need to make sure real doctors are the ones prescribing it, that no convicted criminal is distributing it, and that pot shops aren’t set up near schools or places of worship.”

The Michigan State Police have reported the arrests of two convicted felons during a recent drug raid on a Lansing marijuana clinic. Both employees of the Evolve Medical Marijuana Services were jailed on charges.

After investigating the matter, Jones learned that one of the felons was convicted of homicide. Previously, Jones debated the owner of the Williamston medical marijuana club on public television. The owner stated he was convicted of distributing cocaine. He was later arrested and is currently facing charges.

Jones and Schuitmaker will continue to work with Attorney General Bill Schuette this summer to clarify the medical marijuana laws and protect Michigan residents.

SBs 504 and 505 will now go before the full Senate for further consideration. A three-fourths vote of the Legislature is required to amend a voter referendum.

Senate approves Jones measures to create Special Olympics Fund

LANSING — Legislation creating the Special Olympics Michigan Fund was approved by the state Senate Thursday, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

“As a longtime volunteer for Special Olympics of Michigan, this legislation is very important to me and to many children with special needs and their families,” Jones said. “I hope that residents consider donating a portion of their state tax refund to such a worthy organization.”

Senate Bills 381 and 382, Jones’ measures, establish the fund and create a checkoff box on Michigan Income Tax forms.

Michigan has one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the United States, with more than 20,600 athletes participating in Special Olympics Michigan programs.

According to the lawmaker, the Michigan Department of Treasury can remove the new checkoff without legislative approval if it fails to raise $100,000 in its first two years.

Existing checkoffs on Michigan Income Tax returns include the United Way of Michigan, the Girl Scouts of Michigan, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Children’s Miracle Network.

SBs 381 and 382 will now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Sen. Jones, colleagues targeting elder abuse in Michigan

LANSING — The Michigan Senate announced legislation Wednesday to help increase the reporting of elder abuse in Michigan and strengthen penalties for those convicted of the offense, said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. 

“It’s high time we take a stand against elder abuse in Michigan,” Jones said. “I’m proud to sponsor bills in this vital package and I look forward to seeing them signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder. Let’s send a clear message to our senior citizens that they matter too.”

Elder abuse is a problem affecting nearly 80,000 senior citizens in Michigan, with many enduring unspeakable acts of physical, emotional and financial abuse. According to Jones, the measures introduced today seek to better protect the elderly and harshen penalties for abusers.

Measures in the package would:

  • Improve coordination between state and local authorities;
  • Allow victims of alleged vulnerable adult abuse to give testimony via closed circuit television or a pre-recorded video;
  • Create a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert;
  • Increase penalties for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult; and
  • Further protect those that are at risk of being exploited without placing an unmanageable burden on their guardians.

Judy Sivak, president of the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Kalamazoo, said reforming Michigan law to protect the elderly is vital.

“Legislation is needed to reinvent Michigan because the physical and financial abuse of older adults imposes significant social and economic costs to the state,” Sivak said. “We are here today for Older Michiganians Day, to celebrate and acknowledge the tremendous gifts that older adults give our state each and every day, but we are also here to be advocates for elder abuse legislation.”

Mary Ablan, executive director of the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan, said, “It would be the best Christmas present to have the bills signed by Governor Snyder this December. This is the year to end the abuse.”

Additional guests included Ron Tatro, director of Elder Abuse Prevention Services for Elder Law of Michigan; and Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague.

Senate Bills 454 through 468 were referred to the Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services.

Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s photowire at:
http://www.MISenateGOP.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=24
 

Sen. Jones: feral swine an invasive species

 

LANSING — Sen. Rick Jones and members of the Coalition to Protect Michigan Agriculture and Natural Resources met at the state Capitol Tuesday to announce legislation that would help fight the devastating statewide spread of feral swine.

“Wild hogs are aggressive, destructive creatures and it’s nearly impossible to contain them behind fences,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The best way to ensure that feral swine don’t endanger humans and other wildlife, negatively impact the environment and destroy vital crops is to designate them as an invasive species.”

Jones will be sponsoring legislation that affirms the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) order that bans all recreational shooting of swine behind fences.

Out of Michigan’s 83 counties, 72 counties have reported sightings, shootings or trappings of feral swine.

More than 35 states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have declared wild hogs an invasive species. Wisconsin, Indiana and Pennsylvania have banned the importation, release and captive hunting of wild hogs.

“Allowing wild hogs to be brought into Michigan for hunting is like bringing in Asian carp for fishing. They are an invasive species and should be banned,” Jones said.

“Attempting to regulate feral swine would be extremely expensive and ineffectual in preventing them from continually escaping and thriving in the wild. The best thing we can do is to establish an effective eradication program to eliminate hogs already in the wild.”

According to the DNR, appropriate regulation of the sport shooting industry would cost more than $750,000 annually.

In addition to destroying important crops, feral swine also spread diseases that can devastate Michigan’s livestock, dairy and poultry industries. Scientific research estimates Michigan has more than 2,000 feral swine, descended from escaped Russian boars and razorbacks imported into Michigan by hunt clubs. The USDA estimates that feral swine cause more than $1.5 billion in damages every year nationwide to farms, property, vehicles and natural wildlife resources.

State and national experts on feral swine have warned that the invasive species are among the fastest-breeding and most destructive creatures, with no natural predators.

Senate to announce elder abuse legislation

WHO:             State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; and Senate colleagues.

WHAT:           A press conference to unveil legislation addressing the growing threat of elder abuse in Michigan.

WHEN:          Tomorrow, June 15
9:15 a.m.

WHERE:        Speaker’s Library
                        Second floor
                        Michigan Capitol

BRIEFING:   Schuitmaker, Jones and a bipartisan group of senators will introduce reforms Wednesday to help increase the reporting of elder abuse in Michigan and strengthen penalties for those convicted of abuse.

Elder abuse is serious and often goes unrecognized. Nearly 80,000 Michigan residents are victims of abuse.

The proposals are being unveiled in conjunction with the observance of Older Michiganians Day.

Sen. Jones: new feral swine plan to be unveiled

 

WHO:             Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; George House, executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Inc.; Dave Armstrong, president and CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services; Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association; Ken Nobis, president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association; Ben Kudwa, legislative director of the Potato Growers of Michigan; Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association; Pat Rusz and Dennis Fijakowski of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy; Michigan United Conservation Clubs; and other interested parties.

WHAT:          Press conference to announce a new plan to fight the devastating statewide spread of feral swine.

WHEN:          Tuesday, June 14
                        9:30 a.m.

WHERE:        State Capitol
                        Room 402
                        100 N. Capitol Ave.
Lansing

BRIEF:           State and national experts on feral swine, which have caused extensive damage to farms, property, vehicles, and natural wildlife and resources every year, have warned that the invasive species are among the fastest-breeding and most destructive creatures, with no natural predators.

In addition to destroying important crops, feral swine also spread diseases that can devastate Michigan’s livestock, dairy and poultry industries. Scientific research estimates Michigan has more than 2,000 feral swine, descended from escaped Russian boars and razorbacks imported into Michigan by hunt clubs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates, feral swine cause more than $1.5 billion in damages every year nationwide.