Jones standing up for sailors serving overseas during custody disputes

LANSING—A Michigan judge recently held a U.S. Navy sailor in contempt of court and ordered his arrest after he failed to appear in court for a custody hearing, despite the fact that he is on duty aboard a submarine in the Pacific Ocean.

The attorney for Matthew Hindes, a petty officer currently assigned to the USS Michigan, asked for a stay in the case under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides a 90-day stay in civil court proceedings if military service affects a member’s ability to participate. Lenawee County Circuit Judge Margaret M.S. Noe denied the request and ordered that the child be placed in the mother’s custody pending the outcome of a new custody petition.

In response, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Rick Jones announced Friday that he is having legislation drafted to prevent this type of action from being taken against any American serviceman or woman.

“The actions of this judge are a slap in the face to all servicemen and women, who put their lives on the line protecting America,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “If a soldier has full custody of a child, then he or she should retain that custody while serving the nation.”

Hindes was given custody of his daughter in 2010 after she was removed from Angela Hindes’ home by Michigan Department of Human Services’ Child Protective Services. An October 2010 divorce judgment gave him permanent custody, but Angela Hindes petitioned for a change in the custody order in August last year.

“The fact is that this child was removed from her mother’s care due to neglect and reports of abuse by the mother’s boyfriend,” Jones said. “The 6-year-old girl lives happily with her father and stepmother in Washington, yet a judge is ordering that she be placed with a mother who was previously ruled unfit, because the father’s ‘crime’ was serving America. It’s unbelievable.”

Jones said that his legislation would ensure that servicemen and women are not punished for not appearing in court while serving overseas and that they would retain custody as long as the child is in a safe environment.

“It is sad that this bill is even necessary,” Jones said. “Our sailors and soldiers should not fear losing their rights while they are protecting the rights of all Americans.”

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Jones’ resolution celebrates 60th anniversary of ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance

LANSING?Flag Day in the United States is Saturday and this year’s celebration will mark the 60th anniversary of the words “under God” being added to the Pledge of Allegiance, said Sen. Rick Jones.

“Earlier this year the Michigan Senate approved my resolution, Senate Resolution 108, to honor this historic milestone and urge Congress to forever keep these words preserved in our nation’s pledge,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “As we celebrate Flag Day and this anniversary, let’s also remember the three proud Michigan legislators who worked to enshrine these words in our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance.”

Michigan Congressman Louis Charles Rabaut, D-14th District, was the first to submit a resolution that would place “under God” into the Pledge on April 20, 1953.

These words would become a part of the Pledge on Flag Day, June 14, 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a joint resolution introduced by two Michigan lawmakers, Congressman Charles Oakman, R-17th District, and U.S. Sen. Homer Ferguson, R-Michigan.

“These small yet powerful words, ‘nation, under God,’ were first spoken by President Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address,” Jones said. “They gave our nation strength to persevere back then and are the thread that holds us together, still today. That is why we now must ensure that these words remain the decree of our country.”

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Jones’ Eye Care Consumer Protection bill sent to governor

LANSING—Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to protect the eyesight of Michigan residents and prevent eye exam “robo-doctors” from coming to Michigan was finalized by the state Legislature on Thursday. It now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

“This bill is about making sure that Michigan residents continue to get the proper vision care and eye exams they need,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Eyesight is too precious to trust to a machine at a strip mall kiosk. Robo-doctor machines cannot replace the training and experience of a professional who went to school for many years. While they may be able to write a prescription, they cannot check for diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, hypertension or diabetes.”

None of the robo-doctor eye exam machines have made it to Michigan yet, but many southern states have them in malls and shopping centers.

Once signed, Senate Bill 853 would create the Eye Care Consumer Protection Law, requiring that only an optometrist or a licensed physician specializing in eye care could conduct eye exams and write prescriptions. The new law would also prohibit the use of automated testing devices to conduct eye exams without the supervision of a doctor.

“My wife is a perfect example of the need for thorough eye exams,” Jones said. “During a routine exam, it was discovered that she had a bleeding retina, and she was referred to an ophthalmologist. With a series of shots, her eyesight was saved. Since she had no pain or vision problems, this condition had to be diagnosed by an expert.”

Jones’ bill does not apply to glasses that are not made, designed or sold specifically for one particular individual, such as reading glasses, sunglasses and binoculars.

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Jones’ GM test vehicles bill sent to governor

LANSING—Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to help support post-production vehicle testing in Michigan is on its way to the governor to be signed.

“Michigan is a proud automobile manufacturing state,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Our largest private employer is an auto manufacturer that also happens to be the largest car company in the world. They currently do product testing and evaluations here in Michigan, and my bill is about ensuring that they continue to do so.”

Senate Bill 265 exempts certain company test vehicles from a potential public transit registration fee in Southeast Michigan, which would be up to $1.20 per $1,000 value of the vehicle. This fee is in addition to the normal vehicle registration fee.

Automakers do both pre-production and post-production testing. Pre-production testing happens through use of manufacturer plates. Post-production testing can use vehicles registered as normal passenger cars. These vehicles are owned by the company but driven by employees who then fill out performance evaluations and make other observations.

“Due to their world headquarters being located in Michigan, certain automobile companies, like GM, have large fleets of test vehicles registered in our state,” Jones said. “Without an exemption, these manufacturers could see the cost of testing vehicles in Michigan rise by more than $500,000 per year.

“In the end, this is about supporting our homegrown job providers and keeping critical automobile research and development in Michigan.”

Jones said federal regulations exempt company test vehicles for tax purposes, and he looks forward to Gov. Snyder giving Michigan a similar exemption.

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Senators Jones and Bieda’s bipartisan legislation on ‘Cyber Revenge’ passes Senate

LANSING—Sens. Rick Jones and Steve Bieda’s bipartisan legislation, Senate Bills 924 and 925, to criminalize “cyber revenge” was approved Wednesday by the Michigan Senate. Cyber revenge is the posting of sexually explicit images on the Internet without the consent of an individual, but also includes images given through consent within the confines of a private relationship. 

“In a split second a sexually explicit photo can be uploaded to the Internet without the individual’s consent – permanently ruining their reputation,” said Bieda, D-Warren. “The support Republicans and Democrats have shown for these bills is proof that cyber revenge will not be tolerated in the state of Michigan.”

Dr. Holly Jacobs, the founder of the End Revenge Porn Campaign, is only one example of an individual victimized by cyber revenge. No measures were available when her ex-husband posted inappropriate photos of her on the Internet without her consent. These photos, given consensually in the context of their relationship, resulted in lost job opportunities, forced her to change names and limited her career. Her story can be read at www.endrevengeporn.org.

“We live in a time of great technological advancements. Unfortunately, in the cases of cyber revenge, these advancements are being abused to intimidate or harass many people,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The state of Michigan is taking a stand on behalf of these victims by providing authorities with tools to help stop cyber revenge and prosecute the oppressors.”

SBs 924-925 create penalties subjecting a first time offender to a $500 fine or a maximum of 93 days in prison, or both. A second time offender is subject to a $1,000 fine or up to a year in prison, or both.

The bills now go to the House for consideration before being sent to the governor.

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