Jones to introduce bill to reduce state judgeships

Reflects recommendations of State Court Administrative Office report

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Rick Jones said Friday he intends to introduce legislation that would codify the recommendations proposed by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) in its 2015 Judiciary Resources Recommendations Report.

The report called for a reduction of nine trial court judgeships and the addition of three, for a net cut of six trial court seats in Michigan. In years past the legislature has worked with the executive and the judicial branches to eliminate and add judgeships where they are needed. Jones plans to go through the same process during the next few months.

“As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee I have requested legislation to make the changes,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “It is important to cut judges that are not needed. It costs local and state taxpayers a combined $450,000 per judge.”

According to the SCAO, 25 out of the previously approved judgeship eliminations from 2011 and 2013 have taken place, saving taxpayers more than $6.1 million. With Jones’ proposed legislation, combined with reductions from 2011 and 2013, taxpayers would save nearly $200 million, or $7.4 million annually, once fully implemented.

The biennial report analyzes changes in judicial workloads and recommends the most effective number of trial court and Court of Appeals judges statewide.

The full report may be read in its entirety on the SCAO website.

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Sen. Jones working to prohibit drones at state Capitol

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones announced on Wednesday that he has requested legislation that would make it illegal to fly a drone around the Michigan Capitol without a permit from the Michigan State Capitol Commission.

“We don’t need drones flying around the Capitol and possibly crashing into visiting families or students or damaging the historic building,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “My main concern is the safety of the visiting public. If the Capitol Commission wants to give out permits to trained drone photographers for a wedding, that would be appropriate. But buzzing the Capitol with drones is inappropriate and potentially dangerous.”

The Capitol Commission on Monday voted unanimously to ban drones from flying over the state Capitol grounds unless given special permission from the commission. However, the members also expressed their wish to have the Legislature toughen the policy through legislation.

If enacted, Jones’ measure would put the policy into state law.

Jones is working on this issue and plans to bring the legislation before the Senate in the coming weeks.

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Senate panel approves Jones bill to create African American Affairs Commission

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to establish an African American Affairs Commission under the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is a step closer to becoming law, after a Senate committee unanimously approved the bill on Tuesday.

“Every Michigan child has a right to a safe education,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I applaud the Senate committee members for speaking with one, bipartisan voice that it is time that Michigan has a commission that would ensure that right.”

Jones said that the Michigan Department of Civil Rights has a Hispanic/Latino Commission, an Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, and a Council on Arab Chaldean American Affairs; but no African American Affairs Commission.

“It just makes sense that we have a commission dedicated to monitoring, evaluating, investigating and advocating for the betterment of African Americans throughout Michigan,” Jones said. “I am proud that this initiative has already received overwhelming support, and I will continue working with my colleagues to make this commission a reality.”

Senate Bill 90 was approved on Tuesday by the Senate Government Operations Committee. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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