Jones supports two local Natural Resources Trust Fund projects

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones voted to support legislation on Wednesday to allocate $27.96 million from the Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) for 70 projects across the state, including two projects in Eaton County.

“This investment in our community will greatly benefit area residents by expanding and improving the recreational offerings at our local parks,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Investing constitutionally restricted resources to significantly increase the size of Oak Park in Grand Ledge will provide additional opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and enjoying the Grand River.”

House Bill 5377 authorizes the trust fund to support 26 acquisition projects and 44 development projects. Matching funds of $21.7 million bring the total investment to more than $49.6 million.

The NRTF plan includes $42,000 in trust fund dollars for a $60,000 acquisition of roughly 3.4 acres of property adjacent to Oak Park along the Grand River in Grand Ledge. The existing 5.58-acre park contains some of the most spectacular outcrops of bedrock ledges in the area.

A Delta Township development will receive $49,500 toward a $99,000 project to construct a small restroom building at Hawk Meadow Park. The park contains 4.5 miles of trails that traverse close to 150 acres of agricultural fields, forests and a small pond.

“Once completed, these projects will ensure that these Eaton County parks are places for families to enjoy for years to come,” Jones said.

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The trust fund is constitutionally restricted for natural resources improvements and land acquisitions across the state.

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Jones’ arson deterrent bill approved by Senate

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation designed to deter arson in Michigan.

The measures are sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park.

“This is a bipartisan effort to deter arson in our communities and catch those who commit this serious and often deadly crime,” said Jones, a former sheriff. “The problem is significant. According to the state fire marshal, one-third of all Michigan fires are reported as arson or suspicious blazes. Arson is not a victimless crime. It often results in innocent people being hurt or killed.”

Senate Bills 696 and 697 would aid in the deterrent of arson and increase the effectiveness of arson investigations.

Jones’ bill, SB 697, would help deter arson for the purpose of collecting insurance money. Under the bill, an insurance company would not have to further pay a claim on a building’s fire damage if the fire is determined not to have been accidental, until the insurance company receives a sworn statement from the insured party that they had nothing to do with the fire.

“Arson fires impact all of us. These fires result in increased insurance costs for Michigan homeowners — especially those in a fire’s surrounding area,” Jones said. “My bill is designed to help protect homeowners from a neighbor who decides to burn down his house — or have someone do it for him — in order to cash in the insurance money.”

SB 696 would help law enforcement by requiring medical professionals to report treatment of burn victims, especially in cases in which an accelerant helped cause the injury, which creates reasonable suspicion that the patient committed arson.

The bills now head to House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. Rick Jones named Legislator of the Year by Michigan police chiefs

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) presented Sen. Rick Jones with the organization’s Legislator of the Year award.

Former MACP president and Grand Ledge Police Chief Martin Underhill, MACP legislative chair and Howell Police Chief George Basar, and MACP president and Northville Township Chief John Werth presented Jones with the award at their annual conference in Grand Rapids.

“It is an honor to be recognized for helping support our local law enforcement officers and ensuring we do what we can to best protect the public,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I will continue to work hard to make Michigan a safer place.”

Jones is a former Eaton County sheriff and chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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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: The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) presented Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, with the organization’s Legislator of the Year award at their annual conference in Grand Rapids. Pictured from left: Grand Ledge Police Chief Martin Underhill, former MACP president; Jones; Howell Police Chief George Basar, MACP legislative chair; and Northville Township Chief John Werth, MACP president.

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Jones takes ‘Polar Plunge’ to support Special Olympics

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, plunged into an ice-cold pool in front of the Capitol on Thursday. Jones and other legislators participated in the 2016 Legislative Polar Plunge to help raise money for Special Olympics Michigan, a year-round program offering sports for those with intellectual disabilities.

Jones is a member of the Special Olympics Michigan board and participated in his seventh polar plunge. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and members and staff of the Michigan House and Senate also took the plunge.

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

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Senate approves Jones’ bill to make the first Minor in Possession offense a civil fine

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense.

“During my time as a sheriff, I saw the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “My bill is about smarter justice. It balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that students who make mistakes shouldn’t end up with criminal records that follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Under Senate Bill 332 the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content would be a civil infraction of $100 rather than a misdemeanor.

Repeat MIP violations would remain misdemeanor offenses. A second offense would be punishable by up to 30 days and a $200 fine. The penalties would increase to up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for subsequent violations.

At each time, the judge would be able to order substance abuse treatment or community service.

“The current Minor in Possession law is clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and hurting the ability of some young people to get into college or get a job,” Jones said. “This reform will ensure that every young person has one — and only one — chance to get their life in order and avoid a criminal record.”

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Jones bill to deter unlicensed motorcyclists

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones dealing with penalties for unlicensed motorcyclists.

“This is about protecting the safety of families and everyone who uses our roads,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Motorcycle safety groups like ABATE are concerned about unlicensed motorcyclists on our roads and have called for higher fines. Increasing the penalties for riders operating a motorcycle without the proper indorsement of their licenses would deter those trying to skirt the law and create a safer environment on our roads.”

According to American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE), more than 50 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle are due to riders without the proper indorsements, and 40 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involve riders who do not have a proper license.

Senate Bill 496 would make it a misdemeanor to operate a motorcycle without the proper indorsement on the rider’s license. For the first violation, the penalties would include up to 90 days in prison and/or a $500 fine. The punishments for a subsequent violations would include up to one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.

“The bill would make the penalties for motorcyclists without indorsements on par with those for driving a car without a driver’s license,” Jones said.

ABATE supports the legislation, which has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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