Jones: Bills ensure no victim of rape is ignored

LANSING—Comprehensive, bipartisan legislation designed to aid victims of sexual assault were approved unanimously on Tuesday by the Michigan Senate, said Sen. Rick Jones, a key sponsor of the measures.

“After more than 11,000 untested rape kits were discovered in Detroit, I joined lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to come together to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “After long and hard work, we have taken an important step toward ensuring justice for survivors. This legislation is about much more than simply getting rape kits analyzed. Each kit represents a brave victim who came forward after an assault. This is ultimately about people’s lives.”

Senate Bill 998, sponsored by Jones, would establish the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Tracking and Reporting Act for the purpose of creating a system to track, audit and fund the submission of all released sexual assault evidence kits.

“My bill would also create a commission consisting of high-level state officials and victim’s rights organization members who are experts in this matter and will place a high priority on the wellbeing of victims throughout the process,” Jones said. “Our efforts are about bringing justice to victims. As a father and former sheriff, I am focused on ensuring all sexual assault kits are tested and encouraging survivors to come forward and report such awful incidents.”

Jones’ other bill in the package, SB 1036, would, upon the victim’s request, require medical testing for venereal disease, hepatitis B and C, and HIV within 48 hours of indictment of a defendant for criminal sexual conduct.

SB 1004, sponsored by Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, would require law enforcement agencies to inform victims of the availability of sexual assault evidence kits and other information relating to evidence and investigation of the case. SB 1021 would extend the period evidence kits must be offered to victims to 120 hours after the crime. This would bring Michigan in line with medical advances in kit testing.

House Bill 5445, sponsored by Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, was signed by the governor in July. Public Act 227 of 2014 establishes timelines concerning sexual assault kits from the time a health care facility obtaining consent to release a kit to the time the evidence must be analyzed.

SBs 998, 1004, 1021 and 1036 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Senate stands up for active-duty military parents

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation that would ensure active-duty military parents are not punished for not appearing in court over custody disputes while serving overseas and that they would retain custody as long as the child is in a safe environment.

“This bill is about protecting the rights of America’s servicemen and women, who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The Michigan Senate today unanimously stood up for every active-duty military parent and protected their rights so they can fulfill their service without fear of losing custody of a child.

“Personally, I think that it’s unfortunate that we even have to have this discussion or that this legislation is necessary.”

Senate Bill 1015 would mandate that – unless the best interests of the child are being violated – the court shall not modify the current parenting time order if one of the parties has filed a motion of stay under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The bill was inspired after a Michigan judge this summer held U.S. Navy Petty Officer Matthew Hindes in contempt of court and ordered his arrest after he failed to appear in court for a custody hearing, despite the fact that he was on duty aboard a submarine in the Pacific Ocean.

After lifting those orders under public pressure, the judge recently ordered Hindes’ six-year-old daughter be temporarily removed from his custody while he remains on deployment.

Hindes was given custody of his daughter in 2010 following the child’s removal from the mother’s home by Michigan child protective services due to neglect and reports of abuse. His attorney asked for a stay in the case under the federal act, but the judge held that the law allows her to temporarily place the child in the mother’s care pending the outcome of a new custody petition.

“The child in this case was in no inherent danger, and by placing the child in the mother’s care at this point is insulting and implies that a parent serving his country is worse for a child than one with a history of neglect,” Jones said. “My legislation will ensure Michigan respects previous custody rulings while a parent is serving the nation overseas and will fill in loopholes in the law so that no member of our armed forces has to go through this type of ordeal.”

SB 1015 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Michigan fire inspectors honor Sen. Jones

LANSING—The Michigan Fire Inspectors Society (MFIS) on Thursday honored Sen. Rick Jones with the “President’s Award.” MFIS President Paul Dove (right) presented the award to Jones during the organization’s meeting at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was recognized for his work to improve Michigan law for fire inspectors and firefighters. 

“It is truly an honor to be given this award,” Jones said. “I will continue to work with Michigan’s great fire inspectors and firefighters to make our state as safe as possible for Michigan families and our first responders.”

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Editor’s Note: A photograph of Jones accepting the award is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorRickJones.com.
Click on “Photowire.”

 

Sen. Jones welcomes Pastor Phillips to state Capitol to lead invocation

LANSING—State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, proudly welcomes Pastor Doug Phillips (left) to the Michigan Senate. Phillips is the executive pastor for ministries at South Church in Delta Township and delivered the invocation before the start of Senate session.

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A print-quality photograph of Jones with Phillips is available by visiting the senator’s website at: www.SenatorRickJones.com. Click on “Photowire.”