Jones encourages parents to protect children online during Internet Safety Month

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones is encouraging residents to protect themselves and their children online, including joining the Michigan Child Protection Registry to block harmful and inappropriate content.

“Each year, technology continues to advance and has an ever-increasing impact on our daily lives,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “While these advances have provided us with increased access to information and our friends, it is important to protect ourselves from security breaches that could compromise our privacy.”

June is recognized annually as National Internet Safety Month as a means to spread awareness of the various ways residents can keep themselves and their families safe online.

“One great tool to help protect families is the Michigan Child Protection Registry,” Jones said. “I encourage residents to sign up for this free and secure program that parents can use to keep their children safe from online predators and unwanted adult advertising.”

The registry is a service that blocks adult-oriented material from reaching a child’s email inbox, cell phone or instant messenger ID. For more information or to join the registry, please visit ProtectMiChild.com.

Jones said that another way to protect personal identity and information online is to simply exercise good judgment, such as keeping passwords updated regularly, not sharing them with anyone and never clicking on links that are unfamiliar or opening emails from unknown senders. Having security software on all internet-connected devices and keeping it up to date are also of the utmost importance.

“The internet and smartphones have placed an infinite amount of wisdom at the end of our fingertips,” Jones said. “Internet Safety Month is a reminder to take the steps to ensure your family has a safe and enjoyable time online.”

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Jones bill allowing ‘spring-assisted knives’ headed to the governor

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature has approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation that would repeal the state’s ban on spring-assisted knives.

“Michigan’s law on these types of knives is outdated and was written at a time when popular films portrayed spring-assisted knives as extremely dangerous weapons,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “We are not talking about double-edged stiletto knives. These are spring-assisted knives, such as utility knives commonly carried by police officers and members of the National Guard.”

Senate Bill 245 would repeal the section of Michigan law that makes the selling or possession of “spring-assisted knives” a misdemeanor in the state.

“Spring-assisted knives are not defined in the law. The section refers to a pocket knife opened by the flick of a button, but there are now many different knives that may or may not fall into this category,” Jones said. “Knives of this type are sold at major retailers throughout the state and are carried by many citizens. I sponsored the repeal of the law in an effort to prevent young people from going to jail for carrying a utility knife.”

Jones said that many prosecutors and law enforcement officers in Michigan are not charging individuals with a crime for carrying these common knives, creating a patchwork of enforcement across the state.

The Michigan State Police supported the bill, which now heads to the governor to be signed.

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Governor sent bills to ban female genital mutilation

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to help end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan has been sent to the governor.

Senate Bills 337 and 338, sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, and Sen. Rick Jones would ban the practice of FGM in Michigan. The bills would make the practice a felony crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“This is about standing up for girls and women in our state against a horrific act of barbarism,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The recent case in Southeast Michigan, where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by local doctors, was sickening and evil. It was a violation of human rights that cannot — and will not — be tolerated.

“I am proud to have worked with Senators O’Brien, Emmons and Schuitmaker to have Michigan join 24 other states in outlawing this unnecessary and disturbing act.”

SBs 368 and 369, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, would ban the transportation of girls for an FGM procedure. Under the bills, the crime would be a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FGM refers to cutting and other procedures that injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Federal law prohibits anyone in the country from knowingly excising or infibulating the genitals of any girl under 18 years of age.

The bills stem from a recent case in which Michigan-based doctors were arrested and charged for allegedly conspiring to perform FGM on minors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Jones bill would protect MIOSHA from federal takeover

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones has introduced legislation designed to stop the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) from being taken over by the federal program.

In 2015, Congress required the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to increase its maximum penalties by the cost of living. Michigan is one of 26 states with an OSHA-approved state plan, and all state plans must adopt OSHA’s new maximum penalty levels each year based on inflation.

If Michigan does not comply with the new federal regulations it will lose its state plan and the federal OSHA plan will take control.

“This legislation is essential to keeping MIOSHA in our state and not having the federal government take over,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The impact of a federal government takeover would be devastating. We would lose $33 million in assets, employers’ costs would increase and public employees would no longer be protected, since the federal OSHA plan only covers private employers.

“Losing control of the plan also means that Michigan would lose a voice in developing policies.”

Senate Bill 479 would adopt OSHA’s new maximum penalty level by the cost of living adjustments. An employer would receive a penalty if they are cited for a serious violation of the MIOSHA act.

Under the bill, starting in 2018, the state treasurer would adjust the civil maximum penalties by the consumer price index (cost of living inflation) every January. MIOSHA civil penalty cannot be greater than the amount of the federal OSHA penalty.

“MIOSHA has policies in place to prevent the need for maximum penalties to be issued unless necessary,” Jones said. “Michigan is usually at the very bottom of the list in terms of state plans’ average penalties issued, and I don’t believe MIOSHA will be changing their ways just because of this cost of living increase.”

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Bills to stop female genital mutilation soon heading to the governor

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation to help end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan will soon be sent to the governor.

“Female genital mutilation is a horrific act of barbarism inflicted on young girls throughout the world and even here in Michigan,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The recent case in Southeast Michigan, where little girls as young as 6 years old were mutilated by local doctors, was sickening and evil. It was a violation of human rights that cannot — and will not — be tolerated.”

Senate Bills 337 and 338, sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien and Jones, would ban the practice of FGM in Michigan. The bills would make the practice a felony crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“With this legislation, we are taking a stand to protect all Michigan girls and women from this disturbing act,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Female genital mutilation has no place in our state or anywhere else, and I look forward to seeing Michigan join 24 other states in outlawing this oppressive procedure that permanently devastates so many young lives.”

SBs 368 and 369, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Sen. Judy Emmons, would prohibit someone from transporting a girl to have this procedure carried out. Under the bills, the crime would be a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“This barbaric procedure has no accepted health benefits and is only performed to exercise control over young women,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “We need to give law enforcement and prosecutors every available tool to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The bills stem from a recent case in which Michigan-based doctors were arrested and charged for allegedly conspiring to perform FGM on minors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“These bills would target those responsible for transporting young girls to be mutilated,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “The impact of the savagery we are fighting is tremendous. These traumatic procedures are usually performed without anesthetic, and victims can have ongoing psychological and physical health consequences, including infection, pain and even death.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FGM refers to cutting and other procedures that injure the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Federal law prohibits anyone in the country from knowingly excising or infibulating the genitals of any girl under 18 years of age.

The House approved SBs 337-338 and 368-369 on Thursday. The bills will now return to the Senate to be enrolled and sent to the governor.

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Sen. Jones, Rep. Schor introduce bills to regulate medical marijuana ads

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones and Rep. Andy Schor have introduced companion bills in the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives that would regulate advertising for medical marijuana and medical marijuana services on billboards as Michigan already does for tobacco products.

Senate Bill 463 and House Bill 4767 would effectively ban advertising on billboards for medical marijuana, medical marijuana dispensaries, and businesses that facilitate access to medical marijuana. This mirrors the restrictions Michigan already has on billboard advertising for tobacco.

“The billboards popping up all through our corridors promoting ‘High Lansing’ are shocking,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This is not how you promote medicine, and we don’t need billboards to encourage children and others to use marijuana.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites exposure to tobacco advertising as a factor increasing youth usage of tobacco and recommend limiting advertising as part of an effective strategy to reduce tobacco use among youth. Limiting advertising for medical marijuana and services associated with medical marijuana would likely be part of limiting improper youth usage.

“People in Michigan already know about medical marijuana, and anyone using medical marijuana has a card and should have no trouble finding a location to acquire it,” said Schor, D-Lansing. “We don’t need massive marijuana billboards advertising the availability of medical marijuana or to find shops, and shouldn’t be advertising this to our children and others who may abuse it.”

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Jones welcomes Pastor DeMott to lead the Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, proudly welcomed the Rev. Harold DeMott to the Michigan Senate on Tuesday. Dr. DeMott serves as pastor at the Eaton Rapids Church of the Nazarene and delivered the invocation before the start of Senate session.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph of Jones with DeMott is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorRickJones.com/Photowire.

House panel OKs Jones’ police ‘bad behavior’ bill

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to ensure that a police officer’s bad behavior will not be hidden by that officer’s resignation.

“Having the trust of the community is vital for effective law enforcement,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Although the vast majority of police officers and sheriff deputies in Michigan are outstanding public servants, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the public’s trust.

“I want to thank the committee for moving this important legislation, and I look forward to seeing the House pass this bill and help law enforcement improve community trust by ensuring that bad behavior by officers is not tolerated.”

Senate Bill 223 would require a law enforcement agency to maintain a record regarding the reason for and the circumstances surrounding a separation of service from a police department.

The bill would allow a prospective employing law enforcement agency to seek a copy of reasons and circumstances surrounding the separation.

Jones worked on the legislation after learning that an Eaton County sheriff deputy, who was accused of making an “abusive and improper arrest” in 2014, resigned and got a job with another sheriff’s department.

In a 2016 article, a reporter described how he obtained video of a June 2014 traffic stop through the Freedom of Information Act. The young man who was stopped recorded the incident with his cell phone.

The article described how the man was stopped for having a tail light out and then an “abusive and improper arrest” was made. After the video surfaced, the man was released from jail and was not charged by the prosecutor.

SB 223 now heads to the full House for consideration.

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