Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to crack down on animal abusers across Michigan

LANSING—Four lawmakers on Thursday saw their bipartisan, bicameral effort to keep animals out of the hands of convicted animal abusers gain momentum in the Michigan House.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit; Rep. Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City; and Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, joined forces this past October to form a unified front on cracking down on animal abuse in Michigan.

“As former sheriff, I have seen a lot of animal abuse,” Jones said. “This legislation will make sure that once a person has victimized an animal they will not be allowed easy access to another victim.”

Santana feels the subject of the bills is an excellent opportunity to bond with all of his legislative colleagues in a bipartisan effort. Santana said, “There are no Republican dogs or Democratic cats. The issue of animal abuse reaches across party lines and concerns people on both sides. Having legislators from both parties and both chambers just makes sense.”

Under the bills, people convicted of animal abuse crimes would be placed into the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) database – a system set up by the Michigan State Police to allow the public to search for criminal offenders. Animal shelters and animal control organizations would have access to the ICHAT system free of charge and would be mandated to check it prior to adopting out an animal. If a person is found to have been convicted of an animal abuse offense, the organization would be prohibited from releasing the animal to that person.

Bieda points out that this legislation will not only protect animals throughout Michigan, but could prevent human violence as well. Bieda said, “There is well-documented evidence that there is a connection between animal abuse and human violence. Many serial killers have admitted that they started torturing and killing animals before they moved on to their human victims. With the passage of this legislation, we may be preventing human violence in the future.”

The bills would also require people convicted of animal abuse offenses to not own animals for a period of five years.

“It is our duty to protect Michigan’s adopted animals,” Muxlow said. “I decided to be a sponsor on this legislation after my office was contacted with the horrific news that a dog named Logan had acid thrown on his face. How a person can do that is beyond me. And if it can happen here in Blue Water area, it can happen anywhere in the state.”

The House package had testimony taken on it Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee. 

Santana expects the committee to vote on the bills next week before they move them to the full House chamber for a vote. The Senate package has already passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.

Bill numbers and their sponsors:
Senate Bill 378 (Bieda)
Senate Bill 386 (Jones)
Senate Bill 603 (Bieda)
Senate Bill 604 (Bieda)

House Bill 4534 (Muxlow)
House Bill 4755 (Santana)
House Bill 5062 (Santana)
House Bill 5061 (Santana)



***PHOTO ADVISORY***Olivet football team recognized by Michigan Senate

LANSING— State Sen. Rick Jones welcomed the Olivet Eagles eighth-grade football team to the Capitol on Thursday and recognized them for a special play designed to make one player’s dream come true.

“I think it is safe to say that this not your typical group of 8th grade boys,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “If you look up selfless in the dictionary, you will find a team picture of the Olivet Eagles.”

Last season, the team designed, the Keith Special, a special play for Keith Orr, a teammate with behavioral and learning disabilities. While on a breakaway run, an Olivet running back slid on the goal line; giving up a sure touchdown to set up the play, which the coaching staff knew nothing about. Two plays later, the special play was a success, and Keith scored his first touchdown.

Jones sponsored a trip for the students to the Capitol, where they were recognized by the Senate and enjoyed a pizza party for the players following Senate session.

“It truly was an honor to have the team join me today,” Jones said. “Actions speak louder than words, and every single member of the team proved that. This will be day I look back on fondly for years to come.”

To see a video of the Keith Special please click this:

Jones calls for BWL to have outside board members

LANSING—State Sen. Rick Jones reported on Wednesday that he has requested a bill mandating that the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) allow every municipality served by BWL to have a member on the board.

“Recent power outages in the BWL region have shown a lack of communication with all areas served,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “BWL is much larger than other small city power companies. I want the city of East Lansing and the townships of Delta, Delhi, Dewitt and Meridian to have a voice on the board.”

Jones has also called for the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) to have oversight of the BWL. 

 “Whether it comes from the PSC or all of the areas served, more oversight is needed,” Jones said. “It is obvious that the current system of having Mayor Virg Bernero appoint the director and all of the board members is not working well. If these other municipalities do not have a voice through a board member then they should be allowed to pull out and go to Consumers Energy.”


***PHOTO ADVISORY*** Mayor Fredrick and Sen. Jones attend the State of the State

LANSING— State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, proudly welcomed Mayor Ben Fredrick, City of Owosso, to the Capitol on Thursday. Mayor Fredrick accompanied the Senator to the State of the State.

“Mayor Fredrick has served as Mayor for over 4 years, offering the highest level of excellence in his service to his constituency for many years,” said Senator Jones. “I look forward to working with him in the future.”

Shiawassee County will become part of the 24th Senate District starting in 2014. 

Jones urges Congress to forever keep the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance

LANSING—A resolution recognizing the 60th anniversary of the words “under God” being added to the Pledge of Allegiance by the hard work of Michigan lawmakers has been introduced by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

Senate Resolution 108 urges Congress to forever keep the words preserved in the nation’s Pledge. It also identifies that the words “under God” were inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance by a Joint Resolution that was introduced by Michigan natives, Congressman Charles Oakman, R-17th District, and U.S. Sen. Homer Ferguson, R-Michigan, before being signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.

Michigan Congressman Louis Charles Rabaut, D-14th District, submitted a resolution on April 20, 1953, to amend the Pledge of Allegiance with the words “under God.”  He was the first of many to introduce such similar legislation before it became law in 1954.

“These small yet powerful words, ‘nation, under God,’ were first spoken by President Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address. They gave our nation strength to persevere then and are the thread that holds us together, still today,” said Jones. “Congress must safeguard these words in our nation’s Pledge as a testament to the founding ideals that led our country to prosperity.”

Jones will be working with Rep. Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, who will introduce a similar resolution in the Michigan House of Representatives.

“The pledge of allegiance in its current form has a long and storied tradition in our country, having been recited by countless Americans,” said Leonard. “I am proud of the work that lawmakers from Michigan did to make the Pledge what it is today and honored to commemorate this anniversary.”

Jones said 2014 marks the 60th Anniversary of the words “under God” being inserted into the Pledge and is a treasured moment for our country’s history.

“On this milestone for our nation, we should celebrate with remembrance of the three proud Michigan legislators who worked to enshrine these words in our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance,” said Jones. “We now must ensure that these words remain the decree of our country.”

SR 108 will be the first piece of legislation introduced by Jones in the New Year.


Sen. Jones wants PSC oversight of BWL

LANSING—Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, reported that the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) will investigate the electric companies’ responses after all power is restored. While the PSC has the power to investigate companies like Consumers Energy, they have no oversight of the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL).

“During this disaster, the crews of Consumers and the Board of Water and Light have worked very hard,” said Jones. “However, the current system does not allow for review of the BWL by the PSC. The BWL is a large company serving customers in three counties, and it’s time to change the system.”

Jones has requested a bill to be drafted to place the BWL under the oversight of the PSC.