Sen. Jones’ bill banning powdered alcohol signed into law

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to make powdered alcohol illegal in Michigan was signed into law by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on Wednesday.

“Michigan has now taken a stand against a dangerous product so that it never wreaks havoc on our residents,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “During my time as a sheriff, I saw many young people tragically die due to alcohol poisoning, and I was deeply concerned that such tragic losses of life would dramatically increase if powdered alcohol were to be allowed in our state.”

Senate Bill 240, now Public Act 165 of 2015, bans the sale, distribution and possession of powdered alcohol.

“Prohibiting powdered alcohol is the best way to protect our children from a product marketed with flavors like ‘lemon drop’ that appeal to kids,” Jones said. “Powdered alcohol could be easily abused, even without a person’s knowledge, and it doesn’t belong in our great state.”

Jones said that many states have already banned powdered alcohol and other states are considering bans.

Article V, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority to the lieutenant governor to sign legislation when the governor is out of state. Gov. Snyder is currently attending the 2015 Ontario Economic Summit.

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Sen. Jones bill to keep sex offenders away from schools

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones announced on Monday that he is introducing legislation to restore a law prohibiting sex offenders from going within 1,000 feet of a school.

“A federal judge has ruled that Michigan’s law is not clear. As a result, sex offenders of all kinds can once again hang around our schoolyards,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Whether the convicted sex offender is a flasher or a pedophile, they have no business hanging out at the local school playground and leering at children.

“I have worked hard with attorneys to draft a bill that will protect our children and still meet the federal guidelines.”

Senate Bill 581 is expected to be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Jones serves as chair of the committee and plans to move quickly on the bill, with a hearing soon on the problem.

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Senate OKs Jones legislation to allow tax donations to American Red Cross

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved measures sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to allow residents to make voluntary donations on their state tax returns to help support the American Red Cross in Michigan.

“The American Red Cross has been one of our country’s most impactful and dedicated humanitarian organizations for more than a century,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “My bill would give all Michigan taxpayers an opportunity to support the mission of the Red Cross by simply checking a box on their state income tax form.”

Senate Bill 429 would create an individual income tax checkoff in support of the American Red Cross in Michigan. This would allow taxpayers to choose to direct $5, $10, or more of their income tax return to the American Red Cross in Michigan.

SB 428 would require the creation of the American Red Cross Michigan Fund within the Department of Treasury. The fund would receive donations from the income tax checkoff to be given to the mid-Michigan chapter of the American Red Cross for distribution to all the Michigan chapters.

“These donations could help make possible a tremendous amount of good work,” Jones said. “As a donor who has given more than 22 gallons of blood, I have seen first-hand the Red Cross’ outstanding work as the country’s largest single supplier of blood and blood products. They are also there in times of great need — from helping a single family after a home fire to assisting an entire community after a natural disaster.”

In the 2014 tax year, nearly $629,000 was raised by nine funds with checkoffs on the state income tax form.

Michigan law limits the number of income tax checkoffs allowed in a single year to 10 and requires that a checkoff that failed to raise at least $50,000 in a single tax year for two consecutive years must be removed from the income tax form.

SBs 428-429 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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House panel OKs Jones bill to help bring jobs to Shiawassee County

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to help a trucking company bring hundreds of jobs to Shiawassee County.

“This bill will pave the way for new business investment and well-paying jobs in Shiawassee County,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “With the House committee action, we are one step closer to helping a local job provider invest and create 300 jobs here in Michigan.”

Wheeler Trucking wants to build a new truck center in New Lothrop. The investment would result in 300 new trucking jobs.

Jones and Rep. Ben Glardon, R-Owosso, are working with the company to address a problem it has in Michigan delivering new semitrucks across the country.

Senate Bill 274 would make Michigan’s artificially short length on truck hauling more in line with federal regulations.

Years ago, Michigan artificially changed its length requirement for truck hauling, making it shorter than the requirement for hauling cars. Wheeler Trucking has said their truckers get tickets for being over the limit, and without a change, they might have to move their operations to another state.

The Michigan State Police and Department of Transportation support the legislation, which now heads to the full House for consideration.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph of Jones is available by clicking on the image or by visiting the senator’s website at www.SenatorRickJones.com. Click on “Photowire.”

Caption: Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Rep. Ben Glardon, R-Owosso, were joined by officials from Shiawassee County and Wheeler Trucking on Oct. 13 to tell the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee about the need for Jones’ legislation to help the trucking company bring 300 jobs to Shiawassee County. Pictured from left: Glardon, Justin Horvath of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, Wheeling Trucking CFO Doug Kelley, Wheeler Trucking board member J.D. Smith and Jones.

Senate approves Jones bill to fight Chronic Wasting Disease in Michigan deer

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones’ bill that would allow state officials to take steps to address the ongoing problem of Chronic Wasting Disease was approved unanimously on Thursday by the Michigan Senate.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed three cases of CWD found in wild deer in Ingham County this year.

“This bill will empower the DNR to continue to fight against the spread of this horrible disease devastating our deer,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This is about supporting our hunting heritage and also the health of the herd. With this reform, we ensure wildlife officials have the tools necessary to prevent the spread of the disease in Michigan’s deer population.”

Senate Bill 446 would extend the current authority of the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) to issue orders concerning the feeding and baiting of deer and elk in the state. The current authority is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2016.

“As an avid hunter, I encourage mid-Michigan hunter to continue to head outdoors and hunt,” Jones said. “Our hunters will play a key role in fighting this disease. To help determine the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, hunters should have their deer checked and tested.”

Jones’ bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Jones’ court e-filing bill approved by Senate

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to develop and implement a statewide e-filing system to make Michigan’s courts more cost efficient and easier for residents.

“A statewide electronic filing system would streamline court interactions with attorneys and the public and represents a large step toward a modern court that serves Michigan residents faster and better,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “E-filing would mean no more rushing to court to meet a 5:00 deadline, and no more lugging documents to the counter. It will eventually give residents the flexibility to file anytime and anywhere.”

Senate Bill 531 recommends to the Michigan Supreme Court an e-filing system that gives users the option of filing court papers online.

Additionally, SB 531 would create the Judicial Electronic Filing Fund, to be administered by the State Court Administration Office. The new fund would support the implementation, operation and maintenance of a statewide electronic filing system of court documents.

“An e-filing system would give the public convenient and hassle-free access to our courts and save our courts and filers both money and time,” Jones said. “It can also help our courts achieve substantial savings by reducing data entry needs and the handling and storage of paper files.”

Jones’ bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Jones bill to ban powdered alcohol heading to the governor

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Following passage on Tuesday by the Michigan House of Representatives, legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to make powdered alcohol illegal in Michigan is almost on its way to the governor’s desk.

“With the House’s action, we are only one step away from stopping a product from coming to Michigan before it begins affecting Michigan residents,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This is about protecting the safety of our children. During my time as a sheriff, I saw many young people tragically die due to alcohol poisoning. I introduced this bill because I am deeply concerned that such tragic losses of life would dramatically increase if powdered alcohol were to be allowed in our state.”

Senate Bill 240 would prohibit the sale, distribution and possession of powdered alcohol.

“Powdered alcohol could be easily abused, even without a person’s knowledge,” Jones said. “It is marketed with flavors like ‘lemon drop’ that appeal to kids, and a predator could victimize someone by slipping this product into the person’s drink – greatly increasing its alcohol content.”

Jones said that many states have already banned powdered alcohol and other states are considering bans. The bill has been sent to the Senate for a procedural vote before heading to the governor.

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Jones introduces bill banning drones at state Capitol

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones on Wednesday introduced legislation to make it illegal to fly a drone around the Michigan Capitol building without a permit from the Michigan State Capitol Commission.

“As drones become larger, faster and more numerous, they are increasingly becoming a risk to the safety of the public, which is my main concern,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “We don’t need drones flying around the Capitol and possibly crashing into visiting families or students or damaging the historic building.”

Senate Bill 549 would prohibit the operating of an unmanned aerial vehicle within the airspace above the Michigan State Capitol Historic Site unless given special permission from the Capitol Commission.

“If the Capitol Commission wants to allow trained photographers to use drones for a special event or a wedding, that would be appropriate,” Jones said. “However, allowing anyone to buy a drone and then take it down to the Capitol to buzz the building is not fun and games. It’s inappropriate and puts the visiting public at unnecessary risk.”

Jones’ measure would put into state law a policy unanimously approved by the Capitol Commission this summer. When commission members banned drones from flying over the Capitol grounds they also expressed their wish to have the Legislature toughen the policy through legislation.

Under SB 549, an individual violating the proposed law would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in prison, a fine of up to $500 or both.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee for consideration.

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Senate panel OKs Jones’ bill to crack down on drivers under the influence of drugs

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday voted in support of legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to create a pilot program enabling law enforcement to conduct field sobriety tests on motorists to determine whether they are under the influence of controlled substances, like marijuana.

“As marijuana use becomes more prevalent, the instances of driving under the influence of controlled substances increases,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Just because you have a medical marijuana card doesn’t mean you can get high and drive. That is just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after a night at the bar. This legislation makes it easier for law enforcement to crack down on high driving so we can help keep Michigan roads as safe as possible.”

Under Senate Bill 207, a pilot program would run for a year in three counties that would be determined by the Michigan State Police (MSP). To be eligible for consideration in the program, counties must have at least one certified drug enforcement officer on duty.

Drivers in the participating counties who are stopped under reasonable suspicion would have their mouths swabbed to test saliva for the presence of a controlled substance. The procedure is similar to that of a breathalyzer test for alcohol.

After the pilot program concludes, MSP would be required to produce a report for the Legislature that indicates what counties were selected and why; the types of law enforcement agencies involved; and relevant data including the number of arrests and resulting convictions for driving under the influence of controlled substances as determined by the roadside tests.

Jones’ bill and SB 434, sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson, stem from an incident in the Upper Peninsula where an apparently intoxicated driver high on marijuana caused a tragic accident.

The measures now go to the full Senate for consideration.

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Senate panel approves Jones legislation to allow tax donations to American Red Cross

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved measures sponsored Sen. Rick Jones to allow residents to make voluntary donations on their state tax returns to help support the American Red Cross in Michigan.

“For more than 100 years, the American Red Cross has been one of our country’s most outstanding humanitarian organizations,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This legislation would give all Michigan residents the opportunity to support the Red Cross in its mission by simply checking a box on their state income tax form.”

Senate Bill 429 would create an individual income tax checkoff in support of the American Red Cross in Michigan. This would allow taxpayers to choose to direct $5, $10, or more of their income tax return to the American Red Cross in Michigan.

SB 428 would require the creation of the American Red Cross Michigan Fund within the Department of Treasury. The fund would receive donations from the income tax checkoff to be given to the mid-Michigan chapter of the American Red Cross for distribution to all the Michigan chapters.

“The Red Cross currently responds to about 70,000 disasters nationwide every year — from helping families after a home fire to assisting entire communities impacted by hurricanes,” Jones said. “They also are the country’s largest single supplier of blood and blood products and our leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, first aid and lifeguard training. These donations would have no impact on the state budget, yet they could help do a tremendous amount of good work in our communities.”

In the 2014 tax year, nearly $629,000 was raised by nine funds with checkoffs on the state income tax form.

Michigan law limits the number of income tax checkoffs allowed in a single year to 10 and requires that a checkoff that failed to raise at least $50,000 in a single tax year for two consecutive years must be removed from the income tax form.

SBs 428-429 now head to the full Senate for consideration.

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