Jones’ bill signed removing ‘R-word’ from state statute

LANSING—State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, joins children with disabilities as Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signs legislation to preserve the dignity of residents with developmental disabilities by removing the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” from state law.

“My son, who is now 33, has a developmental disability, and I witnessed his treatment as he grew up,” Jones said. “I’m very happy we are taking the ‘R-word’ out of Michigan law because the state needs to set an example. As a member of the state board of Special Olympics Michigan, I know that teaching Michigan youth to stop using the R-word is a wonderful goal.”

Jones’ measure was Senate Bill 808. Multiple bills were needed because the “R-word” was used 17 times in Michigan law.


Editor’s note: For a print-quality version of Jones photos, visit Click on Photowire.

Senate approves Jones legislation to protect the eyesight of Michiganders

LANSING—Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation that prevents kiosks that provide automated eye exams -or “robo-doctors”- from coming to Michigan was recently approved by the Michigan Senate.

“By passing this bill we are making sure that residents will continue to get the proper care and eye exams they need,” said Jones R-Grand Ledge. “Eyesight is too precious to trust to a machine at a kiosk in a parking lot.”

Senate Bill 853 allows for only an optometrist or a licensed physician specializing in eye care to conduct eye exams and write prescriptions. The legislation also, prohibits the use of automated testing devices to conduct eye exams without the supervision of a doctor.

“Certain diseases need to be diagnosed by experts,” Jones said “Those machines cannot check for diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, hypertension or diabetes.”



Legislation protecting patients and increasing transparency at oversight boards will be sent to governor

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2014

Sen. Rick Jones: 517-410-9495               
Arika Sinnott, Sen. Schuitmaker’s Office: 517-373-0793                                              

LANSING, Mich.— The Michigan Senate Thursday gave final approval to a package of legislation that will better protect patients by increasing oversight and transparency at the state’s boards of health professions.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Sen. Rick Jones introduced the legislation last year in response to evidence that a former Board of Medicine chairman dismissed serious allegations against a Muskegon abortion provider, Dr. Robert Alexander, without investigation and without disclosing their prior relationship.

“The great majority of our health care providers are caring and committed professionals, but unfortunately there are some bad actors that abuse their patients’ trust,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “We will now have the tools in place to effectively hold those people accountable and make sure that they do not pose any more danger to the public.”

Sen. Rick Jones commented on an experience from his time as a sheriff.

“Years ago the victim of a rape in Macomb County came to me and asked for help. She had been drugged and raped by her dentist. She said that she knew I was a former sheriff and would fight for justice,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Her rapist had spent only one year in jail and was given his license back. Today we are sending a package of bills to the governor that will guarantee a licensed medical provider will lose their license forever if convicted of raping a patient. We also ensure that when a complaint is made on a medical professional that one person who is a friend cannot tear it up and hide it. When these bills are signed into law, Michigan will become a safer place to be a patient.”

Schuitmaker added that “Patients rely on the state’s oversight boards to ensure that their health care providers are practicing safely and responsibly. I hope this legislation can restore the public’s confidence in those boards.”

In 2009, allegations were brought against Dr. Robert Alexander by another doctor who treated one of Alexander’s patients. Dr. George Shade, then chairman of the board, singlehandedly dismissed the allegations without investigating. In 2012, Alexander's clinic in Muskegon was shut down for multiple health and safety violations. 

Further information showed that Alexander lost his license and served time in prison in the 1980s and 1990s. When Alexander applied to have his license reinstated, Shade served as Alexander’s mentor.

Senate Bill 575 requires a minimum of three board members to review every allegation brought to the boards. Currently, a board chairperson has the power to make decisions without consulting other members. It further prohibits the currently permissible practice of board members testifying as paid expert witnesses in malpractice suits over allegations that may later come before the board to investigate.

SB 576 requires board members to disclose any conflict of interest that might exist between them and the health care providers they are investigating.

SB 577 automatically revokes a health professional’s license if they are found guilty of criminal sexual conduct against a patient while acting in their capacity as a health professional.

SB 578 makes revisions to the law governing decisions of disciplinary subcommittees.

E-cigarette ban for minors clears Senate

LANSING- The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan package of legislation that would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes and nicotine cartridges to minors as well as ban minors from possessing these objects, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones.

“Electronic cigarettes come in flavors like root beer, orange and even cheesecake,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Good retailers do not sell these to kids; however the ones that sold K-2 and Spice fake marijuana also sell e-cigs to kids.”

Senate Bills 667 and 668 were introduced by Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland.

“Electronic cigarettes offer those who are old enough an alternative to traditional tobacco products,” Anderson said. “However, they can be just as addictive as regular cigarettes and we needed to take this action so school aged children cannot buy them.”                                           

The legislation would treat stores that sell electronic cigarettes or nicotine cartridges to minors the same way as if they sold them tobacco. Minors who possess these items would be treated the same as if they were in possession of tobacco.

“I think everyone can agree that keeping an addictive, potentially hazardous product of out the hand of children is a priority,” Jones said. “I firmly believe we need to do everything in our power to keep anything resembling a cigarette out of the hands of children.”


Jones introduces legislation to protect the eyesight of Michiganders

LANSING—State Sen. Rick Jones on Wednesday introduced legislation that seeks to prevent kiosks that provide automated eye exams -or “robo-doctors”- from coming to Michigan.

“A kiosk in a strip mall cannot replace a doctor who went to school for many years,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “These machines may be able to write a prescription, but they cannot check for diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, hypertension or diabetes.”

None of these machines have made it to Michigan yet, but many southern states have them in malls and shopping centers.

“My wife is a perfect example of the need for thorough eye exams,” Jones said. “During a routine exam, it was discovered that she had a bleeding retina, and she was referred to an ophthalmologist. With a series of shots, her eyesight was saved. She presented with no pain or vision problems; this condition had to be diagnosed by an expert.

“I have introduced legislation to keep  robo-doctors  out of Michigan. Only an optometrist or ophthalmologist should do eye exams and write prescriptions. Patients will still be able to buy glasses wherever they wish to purchase them. Eyesight is too precious to trust to a machine at a kiosk in a parking lot.”

Senate Bill 853 is expected to be referred to the Health Policy Committee.


Jones legislation that would aid city of Lansing’s public safety awaiting governor’s signature

LANSING­­­­­­— Legislation that would aid in keeping more law enforcement officers on the streets and enable fire departments to increase efficiency in response in the city of Lansing is on the governor’s desk and awaiting his signature, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.

“As a police officer it was my sworn duty to serve and protect,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.  “When Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero presented an idea to me for keeping police and firefighters on the ground, I knew we had to act.  As an example of bipartisan cooperation, myself and co-sponsor Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer joined together to keep Lansing streets and residents safe”

Senate Bills 629 and 630 would allow the city of Lansing’s Building Bond Authority Act and the Tax Increment Financing Authority Act (TIFA) to extend the date of refund for bonds issued. These laws were created with the purpose of promoting economic development, redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization by providing financing for the construction of buildings, parking lots, and recreational facilities, and acquiring the land necessary for such construction.

“By expanding the date of refund of these bonds, it will save $1.5 million out of the city of Lansing’s General Fund and allow those funds to be used for public safety,” Jones said.

The city will have to repay all that is owed from the bonds. However, Lansing’s TIFA district is experiencing a decline in the original projected tax capture.

“This legislation acts as a refinancing possibility, in that repayment will stay on the same timeline, just at a lower interest rate,” added Jones.