Governor signs 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 was signed on Friday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“This is about standing up for our seniors and ensuring that Michigan judges have the power to protect all Michigan residents,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This new law was inspired by a real case here in Michigan. An elderly mid-Michigan woman was taken by her son to Nevada, where she was put on drugs that she did not need and deemed incompetent. After a judge there appointed her son as her guardian, he proceeded to gamble her savings away.”

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.

“However, 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. “It was unacceptable that this woman, who had lived in Michigan for 85 years and had a home and family here, was let down by her state and the system of justice.

“With this new law, Michigan courts will have the power to act in similar cases and stop someone from taking advantage of our most vulnerable residents — our seniors.”

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, now Public Act 498 of 2016, allows Michigan judges to take jurisdiction in guardianship cases if certain criteria are met. The new law will take effect in 90 days.

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Jones’ bill to stop the selling of children signed by governor

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday signed legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to prohibit the practice of “rehoming” children in Michigan.

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 to be bought and sold online like a used book,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “With the governor’s action, Michigan is taking a stand against the dangerous practice of rehoming. The message being sent is clear: Michigan children are not for sale.”

Public Acts 481-484 of 2016 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.

In 2013, an Arkansas state representative rehomed two adopted daughters to the family of a former employee, who was later convicted of raping the six-year-old daughter.

“Making a profit by rehoming children has no place in our state,” Jones said. “Rehoming has the potential of being devastating to children who are being abandoned to people who could be pedophiles, abusers or sexual offenders. These new laws will help protect children in Michigan and keep them safe.”

Before the new laws, parents could temporarily transfer power of attorney of their children to another adult — making rehoming a possibility. Parents are now prohibited from knowingly and intentionally delegating their powers regarding the care and custody of their child for more than 180 days.

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