Jones legislation would continue to curb Bridge Card abuse

LANSING— State Sen. Rick Jones introduced a series of legislation on Wednesday that aimed at curbing Bridge Card abuse in Michigan.

Last year, Jones sponsored legislation that banned cash withdrawals from Bridge Cards in casinos. Earlier this year, Jones was alerted that Bridge Cards were being used in gentleman’s clubs and liquor store and he introduced legislation to stop this practice.  This legislation is currently in Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions and a hearing will be held on Thursday.  

The measures introduced on Wednesday are Senate Bills 554-556. The legislation will prohibit cash withdrawals at horse racing tracks and place a provision on a liquor store’s liquor license to prohibit the use of a Bridge Card at the point of sale. Under this change a liquor license would be revoked if a liquor store does not comply with the policy. A liquor store is defined as a store that generates 50 percent or more of its sales from alcohol. Bridge Cards will still be accepted the grocery stores. 

“Bridge Cards should be used to feed hungry families and provide the necessities of life. Lap dances and liquor are not necessities,”said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

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 that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe. 

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.

“I have been fighting abuse like this for years and this is only one more step in process,” Jones said. “I would also like to thank state Representative Margret O’Brien of Portage and Representative Dale Zorn of Ida for all of their hard work on this issue. The hardworking taxpayers in Michigan do not deserve to have their money wasted”

Sen. Jones: Gas chambers in animal shelters must go

LANSING—Legislation that would ban the use of gas chamber for the purpose of euthanizing companion animals was approved by the Michigan Senate on Thursday, said state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. 

“My legislation bans the use of gas chambers in Michigan animal shelters,” said Jones. “I wish no dog ever had to be put down, but if it has to happen we must ensure that it is done humanely as possible.”

In Michigan there are four county shelters that still have operating gas chambers and have indicated that they are still using the chambers: Branch, Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. There are additional counties that still have a chamber but have stated they are no longer using them to euthanize animals.

“When I was the Eaton County Sheriff, I ran the local animal shelter,” Jones said. “I know that shots are quick, painless and are the most humane way to put down an animal.”

Senate Bill 354 which passed 37-0 will now head to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration.


Senate unanimous on Jones legislation to protect children from abduction

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that seeks to prevent children from being abducted by parents during divorce proceedings, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.

“As a police officer, it was my sworn duty to serve and protect. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of my jobs is to work to make Michigan a safer place,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. 

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 State Bar, this legislation is vital to protecting children from being abducted by a parent.

“My legislation empowers judges to order abduction prevention measures in child custody when evidence of a credible risk of child abduction is established,” added Jones.

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.

SB 325 now heads to the Michigan House for consideration


Jones working on legislation to cut costs for seniors

LANSING—State Sen. Rick Jones is working on potential legislation that will make auto insurance more affordable for some seniors. Jones’ recently learned that insurance companies require seniors at age 65 to pay more once they are on Medicare, because Medicare has to be listed as a last resort payee for medical coverage.

“Our seniors are being asked to pay more for auto insurance due to a lack of coordination of benefits.” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Other states are able to find a way to coordinate these benefits. It is time we started to do the same.”

Most drivers in Michigan are allowed to use their current medical coverage as the primary payee when they purchase an auto insurance policy, saving them money because the insurance company only has to pay if the amount needed for care exceeds the amount their medical insurance is authorized to pay. However, at age 65 everyone is eligible for Medicare, which due to federal mandates will only help pay for medical expenses if they are a last resort insurer.

Jones has requested legislation that will allow for seniors over the age of 65 a waiver from the Personal Protection Insurance (PIP) requirement, saving them money and allowing them to not be blindsided by federal mandates.