Jones named ‘Legislator of the Year’

The Michigan Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) recently named Sen. Rick Jones the 2013 “Legislator of the Year.” As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jones has worked hard to make Michigan a safer place. The Michigan FOP presented the award at the state conference in Delta Township.
“It is truly an honor to win this award,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to work with police officers across the state to make Michigan a better place to live, work and take a vacation.” 


Jones,O’Brien and Zorn introduce legislation to block use of EBT in strip clubs, liquor stores

Some Michigan residents may be surprised to know that taxpayer-funded EBT cards can currently be used to withdraw cash at gentleman's clubs and liquor stores.  To remedy this, state Sen. Rick Jones and Reps. Margaret O'Brien and Dale Zorn are collaborating on a bicameral bill package to completely prohibit welfare recipients from accessing taxpayer-provided money at these establishments.

The Legislature last year acted to prohibit the use of withdrawals from cash assistance accounts at casinos statewide.  House Bills 4858-4860 amend the same state law, extending the ban to strip clubs and liquor stores.  The companion Senate Bills are 434-436.

"In working to ensure a cost-effective state government that uses every taxpayer dollar wisely, we have uncovered many instances in which these dollars are being widely abused," said O'Brien, R-Portage.  "I want to ensure this assistance is there for the families who receive on it and rely on it to feed their children, not to fund nighttime entertainment.  This is common-sense legislation that benefits both those who truly need government assistance, as well as the taxpayers who bear the cost burden of funding these benefits."

“Bridge Cards should be temporary assistance to provide the basic necessities of life,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “They should not be cover bar tabs at gentlemen’s clubs or pay for a six pack.”

Zorn, R-Ida, said: “This kind of use of taxpayer assistance is an abuse that we simply won’t tolerate.  Welfare reform is an important part of ensuring a state government that is accountable to its taxpayers, and I plan to continue working to root out this kind of misuse of the system.”

 A bill passed last year by the federal government says that states must comply with new guidelines in order to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants, including preventing assistance provided under the state program from being used in any EBT transaction in liquor stores, gaming establishments or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe for entertainment.  If no change is made, a penalty equal to up to 4 percent of the block grants will be deducted beginning in 2014, which could amount to roughly $40 million in funding losses for the state.

Jones bill would ensure more humane treatment of animals

Legislation that would ensure companion animals in shelters are euthanized as humanely as possible is one step closer to being law, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.

The Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously voted yes to Senate Bill 354 on Thursday. The measure would ban the practice of euthanizing shelter animals by gas chamber.

“I wish every single pet could be adopted by someone who will properly care for them,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Unfortunately, that is not the case and some animals are put down. They deserve the process to be as pain free as possible.”

Currently in Michigan, there are four shelters that still have active gas chambers.

SB 354 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Sen. Jones demands Congress investigate Michigan gas prices

Sen Rick Jones on Tuesday introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 72, which urges congress to investigate high fuel costs in Michigan.

“Over the past few weeks, Michigan motorists have faced some of the highest gas prices in the country,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “If gas prices do not go down soon, it is going to hamper budgets of families across Michigan.”

Experts in the oil industry point to factors such as increased demand paired with lower supplies, refineries being down and insufficient refinery capacity for the recent soar in gas prices.

“If refineries are down in Illinois and Indiana, this is an interstate commerce issue, and I believe this warrants a federal investigation.” Jones added 

However, Jones believes an investigation is necessary to ensure of the residents of Michigan are not being price gouged. 

“I hope that gas prices return to normal soon,” Jones said. “However, I think the reason for this unexpected price increase needs to be discovered so warning signs can be identified and long-term solutions can be found.

“Tourism is a vitally important industry to our state, and the higher that gas prices become the harder it will be for Michigan families to travel.”


Jones calls for refinery construction

State Sen. Rick Jones on Thursday called for new gasoline refinery construction in Michigan. Gasoline representatives have told media sources that Michigan gas prices are high because two refineries are down for maintenance and others are out of commission with other problems.

“Michiganders are suffering under some of the highest gas prices in the nation,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.  “It is also important to keep prices down for our tourism industry.  Gasoline companies blame the high price on refineries being down for various reasons.

“Today I’m calling for new refinery construction to supply Michigan with gasoline. I’m in the process of drafting a bill to give a company a ten year property tax credit to encourage this construction.  I also will work hard to make sure they get permits in a timely fashion.”

In the past, Sen Jones has taken a stand against higher gas taxes in Michigan.