Judiciary committee takes testimony on anti-animal abuse legislation

LANSING— The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, took testimony on legislation that would prevent convicted animal abusers from adopting pets at shelters, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.

“Animal abusers can move on to become people abusers,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “It is important that we catch animal abusers and get them psychological treatment. It is also important that repeat offenders don't have an easy source of new victims.

“I have been working with a bipartisan team of legislators to come up with ways to prevent easy adoption of dogs and cats at shelters by convicted abusers. We first researched creating an animal abuse registry similar to the sex offender registry. However, it was decided that could be costly and difficult to start up,” added Jones.

After doing more research with the Michigan State Police I now have legislation in the works to solve the problem. Non-profit organizations that adopt out pets will have free access to the Internet Criminal History Access Tool. This will allow them to see the criminal history of animal abusers and stop an adoption before it is too late.

“Progress was made today to ensure that dogs and cats will not be adopted by people who are going to abuse them,” Jones said.  “I would like to thank everyone who came to testify today, and I look forward to continuing to work on this legislation.

Jones introduces legislation to bring oil refinery to Michigan

State Sen. Rick Jones on Wednesday introduced legislation that would offer tax relief to oil companies who build refineries in Michigan. In recent months, Michigan has had some of the highest fuel prices in the country.

“Today I’m calling for new refinery construction to supply Michigan with gasoline,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This measure would create a ten-year exemption on property taxes as well as personnel property taxes on the equipment necessary for the refining process. I will also do everything I can to make sure that permits are granted in a timely fashion.”

Gasoline representatives have told media sources that Michigan gas prices are high because two refineries were down for maintenance and others are out of commission with other problems.

“I hope this legislation is passed and that it will encourage a refinery to be built in Michigan,” Jones said. “Tourism in Michigan is major industry and higher gas prices will stop people from vacationing in Michigan.”

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

Jones bill seeks to protect children from abduction

Legislation aimed at protecting children from being abducted by parents during divorce proceedings was recently introduced in the Michigan Senate, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.

“As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of my jobs is to work with judges, prosecutors, and the State Bar to make Michigan a safer place,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “One of the problems throughout the state and the nation is parental child abduction.  Whenever parents start divorce proceedings this is always a danger.  Some countries in the world do not recognize United States law.  So, if a parent flees this country with a child the other parent may never see them again.”

Senate Bill 325 would establish the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act. The act is intended to prevent the abduction of children by establishing standards for determining whether a child is at risk for abduction and by providing remedies to prevent it.

“In the opinion of the family law section of the State Bar, this legislation is vital to protecting children from being abducted by a parent,” Jones said. “My legislation empowers judges to order abduction prevention measures in child custody when evidence of a credible risk of child abduction is established.”

If a court determines that a credible risk exists that the child will be abducted, it may then order provisions and measures to prevent abduction.  These provisions include travel restrictions, prohibiting the individual from removing the child from the state, or placing the child’s name in the United States Department of State’s Child Passport Issuance Alert Program.  If abduction appears imminent a court may make a change in physical custody. 

Warning signs of possible abductions could be a parent suddenly getting passports for children, threatening to abduct a child, undergoing a change in citizenship status and other high risk factors.