Sen. Jones wants to protect ‘man’s best friend’

Sen. Jones wants to protect ‘man’s best friend’

LANSING—A bipartisan package of legislation that would make “puppy mills” illegal was introduced in the Michigan Senate on Tuesday, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

“Dogs are companion animals, and they should not be looked at as a commodity that can be raised for profit,” Jones said. “If they are abused in puppy mills then they develop behavior problems.  The family that buys them suffers too.  This bill is about consumer protection as well as the humane treatment of dogs.”

Senate Bill 118, sponsored by Jones, would require “puppy mills” with more than 15 female dogs to be inspected by the Department of Agriculture. Jones’ bill and  SB 117 sponsored by Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, address problems with large scale dog  breeding in Michigan. 

In April of 2012, a puppy mill with nearly 350 dogs, 12 cats and two birds was discovered in Jones’ district. These animals were kept in filthy cages that were stacked on top of one another.

Puppy mills are currently defined as any breeding operation that houses more than 50 animals. Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care; live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction; and are confined inside cramped wire-floored cages for life. There is little regard in puppy mills for the dogs’ health or any existing genetic conditions that may be passed on to the puppies.  

“Currently, Michigan has no regulations in place on large-scale breeders. The Puppy Protection Act will ensure that these animals are treated humanely,” said Jones. “The measure will crack down on irresponsible breeders and prevent from setting up shop in Michigan.”

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Sen. Jones introduces education package

Sen. Jones introduces education package

LANSING—A package of legislation designed to restore the original intent of Proposal A was introduced in the Michigan Senate on Wednesday, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.

“Proposal A was first put on the ballot in 1994 and approved by 69 percent of Michigan voters,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The proposal increased sales tax by 2 percent in order to protect seniors on fixed incomes from facing skyrocketing property values on their homes and to better fund public education.”

Former governor Jennifer Granholm was the first Michigan governor to discover she could transfer money from the School Aid Fund to the Community College budget. These funds were then backed out of the Community College fund and placed into the General Fund.

“The spirit of Proposal A was to fund local schools and eventually equalize the per-pupil foundation so every school had the same per-pupil funding,” Jones said.  “Unfortunately, this has not happened.

“I introduced Senate Joint Resolutions H and I in order to restore the original intent of Proposal A. SJR H would require that school aid money must stay in K-12 funding.  SJR I would require that all schools must have equal funding per pupil gradually within ten years. It is not fair for a student in Eaton County to have $7,000 for education and students in other parts of Michigan to have $11,000 or $12,000 thousand.

Jones said another problem is that money has to be taken away from education for the cost of school busing. He said schools in Eaton County pay for buses while other districts such as East Grand Rapids or some charter schools have no busing.  Jones will introduce a bill next week to provide schools with fifty cents per mile for transporting children to and from school.

“Many states provide much more funding for busing but this is a start,” Jones said.
“The Michigan Constitution says that the Legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools.  It is time to ensure that money meant for schools is not diverted in any way. The school buses must be well maintained so that children in rural areas have reliable transportation.”

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Muskegon abortion clinic closed due to code violations

Muskegon abortion clinic closed due to code violations

LANSING— A Muskegon abortion clinic that had multiple code violations has been shut down by the city, said state Sen. Rick Jones.

“When any medical procedure is taking place, the utmost safety needs to be the top concern,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

In December of last year the Michigan Senate passed an omnibus bill that called for stricter regulations on abortion clinics in Michigan. The package went through the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Jones, and Jones worked to pass the measure.

Muskegon Public Safety Director Jeffery Lewis released a redacted list of violations that were discovered after Muskegon police investigated a reported break-in at the clinic.

The eight alleged city violations included:
• Leaking roof;
• “Poor housekeeping resulting in a large fire load”;
• Several containers of hazardous materials not stored in cabinets;
• Combustible materials stored near ignition sources;
• No fire extinguishers;
• No key box for fire department emergency access;
• Storage in mechanical and electrical room blocking electrical panels and furnace; and
• Absence of exit signs and emergency lighting.

Other alleged violations include: Used hypodermic needles in unsecured containers, “blood” on the floor and walls in multiple locations as well as dripping from a sink trap in a patient room, and “uncovered buckets containing unknown fluids” in the operating room.

“These violations are proof that the legislation passed late last year was completely necessary,” Jones said.  “Reports of blood on the floor and walls and uncovered buckets containing unknown liquids is what I would expect on the set of a horror movie, not at a medical facility.”

At this point, there are no intentions to reopen the clinic.

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Sen. Jones introduces bill requiring retired legislators to pay more for their health care

Sen. Jones introduces bill requiring retired legislators to pay more for their health care

LANSING— State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, introduced his first bill of the 2013 legislative session on Wednesday. 

“Retired legislators should not have a better benefit package than other retired state employees,” said Jones. “If other retired state employees and teachers have to pay twenty percent of their health care, so should retired legislators.”

Senate Bill 30 would require retired members of the state House and Senate to pay twenty percent of their health insurance costs. This measure would bring retired legislators in line with other retired state employees.

Jones fought for this last session and has pledged to fight for it in every session until it gets passed.

Governor signs bills to increase public safety

Governor signs bills to increase public safety

LANSING—A package of legislation designed to strengthen oversight for prisoners on work or school release was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones.

“These are common sense reforms that will increase efficiency and safety at no cost to tax payers,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.  “While I was in law enforcement, it was not uncommon for inmates to violate the terms of their work release agreement.

In 2011, an Eaton County Circuit Court judge granted work release to a convicted felon based on a phony document provided to the inmate’s attorney from an acquaintance.  Instead of working, this inmate allegedly committed a series of break-ins and then allegedly committed a double homicide against a retired state trooper and his wife. 

Public Act 610 of 2012, sponsored by Jones, requires that once a prisoner is approved for release, the Department of Corrections Bureau of Probation must provide verification of employment or enrollment to a judge before the inmate is released.  This verification must take place within seven days of the prisoner being approved for work release.

Jones also introduced PA 612 of 2012, which requires that any felon on school or work release wear an electronic monitoring device, which would be paid for by the inmate.

“This law may have prevented two of my friends from being brutally murdered,” Jones said. “The goal of our corrections system is to rehabilitate prisoners so that one day they can be productive members of society, and work release is a critical part of that process. However, public safety must be a chief concern when deciding if an inmate can be granted work or education release. By adding a GPS tether you allow law enforcement officials to constantly monitor the location of inmates who are out on work release.”

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Jones bill would protect Michigan students

 

Jones bill would protect Michigan students

LANSING—Legislation requiring private security guards or private college security forces to notify a law enforcement agency when a crime is committed was signed into law by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson on Monday, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones.

“I have experience in both campus security and 31 years as a police officer,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “When a crime is committed the police need to be notified so a proper investigation can be done. This law will ensure that violent crimes such as assault and rape will be reported. Under the new law, not reporting a crime is a 90-day misdemeanor with a fine of no more than $1,000.

The Chiefs of Police organization made Jones aware that crimes were going unreported and proper investigations were not being done and asked him to sponsor the legislation.

Public Act 591 of 2012 was introduced in response to more than one instance of criminal activity going unreported at Andrews University, a private college located in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Another example of alleged untimely reporting occurred on the campus of the University of Michigan. According to university records and statements, a resident allegedly found several files containing child pornography on a computer in a locked lounge in the Pediatric Emergency Department. The resident met with her supervisors and hospital security officials, sharing what she had seen. University officials waited six months before reporting the incident to university police.

“In short, this bill requires private security forces to speak up when a crime is committed,” Jones said. “There are many examples of horrific behavior continuing because someone did not speak up; one of the most notable examples was the scandal that took place at Penn State University. I would hate for something like that to happen in the great state of Michigan. There is no excuse for a security guard to fail to report crimes of violence or dangerous situations to the police. The safety of everyone is the most important factor.”

 

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Jones bills allow insurance companies not to cover medical marijuana

Jones bills allow insurance companies not to cover medical marijuana

LANSING—A series of bills that clarifies whether or not medical marijuana will be covered by insurance companies has been signed into law, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones.

“Auto insurance and workers’ compensation insurance is already expensive, and I see no reason to add costs,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.  “I hope these changes will help stop abuse of the system and save money for policy holders.”

Public Act 542 of 2012 excludes the medical use of marijuana from allowable expenses covered by personal injury protection benefits under an automobile insurance policy. PA 542 was signed into law by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on Wednesday.

Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder signed PA 481, which allows employers to not be responsible for paying for employee medical marijuana treatment.

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