Governor signs Jones’ Minor in Possession reform

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday signed Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense.

“This reform balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that kids make mistakes,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “On some college campuses, students were stopped while walking home, given a breathalyzer and then charged with MIP.

“As a former sheriff, I know all about the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking, but this was always about fairness and smarter justice. With this change, students who make a mistake will not end up with criminal records that follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Under Senate Bills 332 and 333, now Public Acts 357 and 358 of 2016, the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content will be a civil infraction of $100 rather than a misdemeanor.

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

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

“The problem with the old Minor in Possession law was that it was clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and jeopardizing the chances of some young people to get into college or get a job,” Jones said. “Under this new law, we will give young people one — and only one — chance to get their lives in order and avoid a criminal record.”

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***PHOTO ADVISORY***Sen. Rick Jones sets up Nativity scene on Capitol lawn

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was joined by Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth (left), and Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion (right), on Thursday morning to set up a Nativity scene on the east lawn of the Michigan Capitol. Jones encourages the public to come out to see the display. For the next six days, he will make the trip to the Capitol daily to put up the Nativity scene in the morning and then dismantle it each night by 9 p.m., in accordance with Capitol Commission rules.

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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/Photowire.

Senate finalizes Jones’ bill to stop the selling of children

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The practice of “rehoming” children would be prohibited under legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones and on its way to the governor’s desk.

Rehoming is the transferring of a child to another family on a permanent basis without the approval of the courts, oftentimes without a review or background check of the new family. The practice could be done with one’s own biological child or after a legal adoption has been finalized. Essentially, rehoming is the giving away of one’s child for the purpose of monetary gain.

“Children are not commodities. They cannot be sold in a simple transaction,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Selling children through this practice of rehoming has to stop.”

Senate Bill 924 and House Bills 5626, 5628 and 5629 would prohibit parents from transferring legal or physical custody of a child with the intent to permanently strip themselves of parental responsibility. If an unauthorized person is found to advertise for, solicit or recruit a child for adoption, they could be found guilty of a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

“People are finding ways to make a profit by rehoming children, and we need to send the message that Michigan children are not for sale,” said Jones. “These children are being abandoned to people who could be pedophiles, abusers or sexual offenders.”

Several years ago, there was a case in Arkansas where a state representative rehomed his adopted daughters to the family of a man he fired from the daycare that he and his wife owned. The man the children were given to was later found guilty of raping the six-year-old girl and is now in prison.

“Rehoming has the potential of being devastating to children who could end up being in homes of people who will hurt them,” Jones said. “We have to protect our children, and I look forward to seeing the governor sign this legislative package to help keep children safe.”

Under current state law, parents can temporarily transfer power of attorney of their children to another adult. This process could be used to make rehoming a possibility. The bills would prohibit a parent from knowingly and intentionally delegating their powers regarding the care and custody of their child for more than 180 days.

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House approves Jones bill cracking down on senior exploitation

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to protect Michigan seniors from being financially exploited by a family member will soon be sent to the governor to be signed.

“Michigan courts should have the power to stop someone from taking advantage of our state’s most vulnerable residents — our seniors,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This measure was inspired by a real case here in Michigan. An elderly mid-Michigan woman was taken by her son to another state, where she was put on drugs that she did not need and deemed incompetent. A judge then appointed her son as her guardian, who proceeded to drain her bank accounts.”

Jones said that the woman’s family in Michigan succeeded in getting her back home and off the unnecessary medications. Once off the drugs, it was clear the woman did not need a guardian.

“Unfortunately, when she asked a Michigan judge to declare her competent to be her own guardian, the judge said there was nothing he could do,” Jones said. “This woman had lived in Michigan for 85 years and had a home and family here — but the state let her down.

“It was unacceptable, and I look forward to seeing the governor stand up for our seniors by signing this bill — ensuring that Michigan judges have the power to protect Michigan residents.”

The Michigan judge said he had no jurisdiction over the woman’s case. An out-of-state judge had taken jurisdiction and, in the eyes of the court, she was a resident of that state.

Senate Bill 270 would allow Michigan judges to take jurisdiction in guardianship cases if certain criteria are met. The bill was approved by the Michigan House on Wednesday. The Senate will enroll the bill and send it to the governor.

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Sens. O’Brien and Jones, Lt. Gov. Calley help enact reform ending schools’ use of seclusion and restraint of students

LANSING, Mich. — Teachers in Michigan’s public school districts would be trained to properly place students into seclusion or in physical restraint in emergency situations.

Senator Margaret O’Brien and Sen. Rick Jones worked with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley to push the reform measures through the Legislature. O’Brien cited a 2003 Kalamazoo case in which 15-year-old Michael Renner Lewis III died from prolonged physical restraint as a prime example for why changes are needed.

“On August 25, 2003, a mother sent her child to school. He never returned home,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Limiting the use of restraint and seclusion and training school staff in the proper way to implement these techniques in specific emergencies will help ensure our students’ safety and stop tragedies from happening again.”

House Bills 5409-5417 would require the Department of Education to develop a statewide policy regarding the use of seclusion and physical restraint in public schools.

Under the bills, emergency seclusion and emergency physical restraint could be used only in emergencies as defined in the package; every use of seclusion and restraint and the reason for using them would have to be documented and communicated to the building administration and to the parents; and schools would have to provide awareness training on seclusion and restraint to all school employees who have regular contact with students and more specific training to key employees on the use of these techniques in emergencies.

The legislation stems from recommendations developed from public hearings and a survey conducted by Calley on how to address issues facing special needs students in the state.

“I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Calley and Senator O’Brien for their leadership in ensuring that schools are safe places for all Michigan children to learn,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This reform will ensure that all educators are properly trained on how to deal with students who might be endangering themselves or others. If seclusion is necessary, it must be an appropriate room — not a broom closet.”

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**MEDIA ADVISORY** Sen. Rick Jones to set up Nativity scene at Capitol on Thursday morning

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones, with help from Sen. Ken Horn and Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, will be setting up a Nativity scene on Thursday morning on the east lawn of the Michigan Capitol. Jones encourages the public to come out to see the display, which will be set up each day through Christmas Day.

Who:
Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge;
Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth;
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; and
Local residents.

What:
Jones and his colleagues will be putting up a Nativity scene on the Capitol lawn that features an infant Jesus in his manger with the Virgin Mary and Joseph. Horn purchased the Nativity from Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth and will be bringing it down to Lansing.

When:
Thursday, Dec. 15 at 9:30 a.m.

Where:
Michigan State Capitol
East Lawn
Lansing, MI

Brief:
Jones will make the trip to the Capitol every day through Christmas to put up the Nativity scene in the morning and then dismantle it each night by 9 p.m., in accordance to Capitol Commission rules.

For the past two years, Jones has set up and taken down the Nativity each day leading up to Christmas. Jones says he does it as a citizen looking to help celebrate the true spirit of Christmas.

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Jones applauds five area projects in trust fund recommendations

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones applauded the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board for including five area projects on its list of recommendations for 2017.

“This investment would greatly benefit area residents by expanding and improving outdoor recreational offerings for people of all ages to enjoy,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Investing these constitutionally restricted resources would significantly increase access to the Grand and Shiawassee rivers for boating and fishing and also enhance the enjoyment of local parks.”

The NRTF board recommended using $27.7 million from the trust fund to support 27 acquisition projects and $19.9 million for 87 development projects.

The recommendations include $67,500 to acquire nine acres of property along the Grand River in the city of Lansing in Eaton County. The riverfront parcel will connect with Hunter’s Ridge Park and Fulton Park, enable the construction of a non-motorized trail of six miles or more and enhance possible landing sites for watercraft.

Delta Township in Eaton County would receive $162,500 to construct an accessible canoe launch site at a wooded five-acre property on West Willow Highway along the Grand River, a handicap-accessible parking lot and an accessible trail to the launch. Delta Township would also receive $175,000 to construct a new restroom building at Delta Mills Park and connect it to existing facilities and pathways at the 32-acre park.

In Shiawassee County, $288,600 would be invested to improve access to the Shiawassee River at Heritage Park in Corunna. The development would include a carry-down watercraft launch, fishing pier, boardwalk and viewing platform. The improvements would follow removal of an unused dam and would connect to nearby towns and regional trails.

Clinton County would see $96,700 used to renovate a more-than-50-year-old bathhouse to provide a place for all users of the newly opened St. Johns Community Spray Park to change clothes or use the bathroom. The renovation would include adding two accessible family changing rooms, electrical and plumbing upgrades, a new roof and updated toilets.

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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Senate approves Jones bill to help protect children with special needs

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to help lost or injured people with special needs.

“If children with special needs are injured or wander away, they are often unable to help law enforcement contact their caregivers,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Under this legislation, parents would be able to voluntarily have photographs and fingerprints of their special needs children entered into a statewide system that can be used to identify the children and reunite them with their families.”

Senate Bill 1170 would allow parents and guardians of special needs children to voluntarily add children with special needs to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) database and the statewide network of agency photos maintained by Michigan State Police. SB 1171 would allow guardians to make the same requests for adults with special needs under their care.

Jones said that there would be no cost to taxpayers; caregivers would pay the state police for the costs.

“This program would be completely voluntary and the photographs and fingerprints would be removed from the databases at any time if requested by the parent or caregiver,” Jones said. “This is about giving parents and guardians an important tool that could help law enforcement officials reunite families when someone with special needs is unable to assist them.”

The bills now head to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.

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Jones’ Minor in Possession reform on its way to governor

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to make Minor in Possession (MIP) a civil fine for the first offense is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed.

“I saw the terrible and often tragic effects of underage drinking when I was Eaton County sheriff,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This is about fairness and smarter justice. It balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that kids make mistakes. After the governor signs this reform into law, students who make a mistake will not 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 in jail 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 state’s current Minor in Possession law is clogging up our courts, putting kids in jail and jeopardizing the chances of some young people to get into college or get a job,” Jones said. “With this reform, Michigan will be giving every young person one — and only one — chance to get their life in order and avoid a criminal record.”

SB 332 was approved on Tuesday by the Michigan House of Representatives. The Senate is expected to concur with technical changes soon and send the measure to the governor.

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