Jones seeks to end ‘culture of silence’ concerning sexual assault on college campuses

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to require university staff who learn about a sexual assault to provide information and support to the victim.

“As we join families in Michigan and across the country in anger at the shocking lack of integrity concerning campus sexual assault, it is time for us to stand up and end this ‘culture of silence’ on our college campuses,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “All reports of sexual assault must be taken seriously, and every victim who has the courage to come forward should be embraced and supported.

“Under this legislation, Michigan has the opportunity to be a leader in ensuring that college students know that there is help if the worst ever happens to them.”

As approved by the committee, Senate Bill 903 would require employees of a postsecondary educational institute, who are notified by a student that they have been a victim of sexual assault, to provide that student with vital information, such as details on campus, local and state resources and services and the state resource handbook for campus sexual assault.

The bill would also create a misdemeanor crime for knowingly discouraging a student from reporting the assault to the proper authorities. Employees who try to discourage a victim from reporting a sexual assault would face up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

“I hope this will be one of many steps to increase awareness of sexual assault that is happening on our campuses, empower survivors to speak out for help, give them the resources to help their journey to healing, and eventually end sexual assaults altogether,” Jones said.

SB 903 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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Senate’s address confidentiality program for assault victims advances

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation introduced last fall to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to hide their physical address from offenders, said Sens. Margaret O’Brien and Rick Jones.

The address confidentiality program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to obtain a confidential address for official documents and mail correspondence to protect themselves from their past offenders.

“This legislation will save lives by adding a layer of protection for survivors of these horrific crimes,” said O’Brien, R-Portage, who sponsored two bills in the seven-bill plan. “It only makes sense that Michigan join with 37 other states in empowering survivors with the ability to conceal their addresses from their offenders as they seek to heal from the pain and anxiety of the past.”

A program participant’s unique identifier would also be used in the state’s Qualified Voter File system, so participants would be able to vote absentee instead of going to a polling location, which might reveal their physical address. They would also be exempt from jury duty.

The program would also afford children the same address confidentiality if they are at risk of being threatened or physically harmed or if they or their parents or guardians are victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery. A school would not be allowed to disclose the address of a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians if they are program participants.

“Creating the address confidentiality program will help protect those at risk of being found by an assailant,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “With this program we are helping those who have survived domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking, and those who are afraid of being harmed by someone, to go about their ordinary day knowing that where they live is hidden.”

Senate Bills 655-658 and 954-956 now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

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Jones’ nonworking traffic light bill signed

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to clarify what drivers should do at an intersection with a nonworking traffic light has been signed into law.

“This is about improving safety on our roads when the power is out and a traffic light isn’t working,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “It can be dangerous if two drivers have different expectations when approaching an intersection where the traffic light is out. If one driver thinks everyone is stopping and another driver thinks he has the right of way, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Senate Bill 521, now Public Act 109 of 2018, requires drivers to treat intersections where a traffic signal is malfunctioning as a four-way stop. The new law will not apply to traffic lights that are only active during certain periods, such as signals outside of a school or a fire department.

“Most drivers already believe that treating an intersection with a nonworking traffic signal as a four-way stop is the law, and with this reform, it now will be,” Jones said. “This will end the confusion in Michigan’s law and ensure that all drivers in our state are on the same page when approaching an intersection with a nonworking traffic light.

“It might slow traffic a bit on major roads, but it’s worth it if it can help save lives.”

The Michigan State Police supported the bill, which was signed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on Tuesday.

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Sen. Jones proposes closing gun rental loophole

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones announced that he is working on a solution to a loophole in Michigan law concerning gun rentals.

“An awful tragedy recently occurred in which a Lansing area woman was murdered after filing a personal protection order against her former boyfriend,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “After losing his own gun due to a judge’s order, the violent man went to a pawn shop and attempted to buy another handgun. When the dealer ran a criminal background check, the sale was stopped.

“Unfortunately, the man then went to a gun range, rented a handgun and walked out with it — leading to the murder of the woman who had previously filed a PPO against him. He then committed suicide. With commonsense reform, we can help prevent similar senseless situations.”

Jones has been working with the Michigan State Police on legislation regarding the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) system and preventing violent people from taking advantage of the loophole in the future.

Under the senator’s requested legislation:
• To rent a handgun in Michigan, individuals would be required to have a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) or a permit to purchase or they must pass an NICS background check;
• If an individual tries to buy a handgun and the NICS stops the purchase, the dealer would have to notify the police so they can follow up. If the individual has a personal protection order against them, the police could then alert the potential victim; and
• Residents who have their CPL suspended would be required to turn their CPL card into the county clerk. Failure to do so would be a misdemeanor offense.

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Senate approves Jones’ voluntary car interlock bill

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan parents would be allowed to install a breath alcohol interlock device on their car without it sending reports to the secretary of state under legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones and unanimously approved Tuesday by the state Senate.

“For decades, the combination of inexperienced young drivers and underage drinking has been a source of severe anxiety for many parents,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Technology now exists that can help reduce that fear. This legislation would enable parents to install an ignition interlock device on their car to help prevent drinking and driving.”

In Michigan, if a restricted license is ordered for a habitual drunk driving offender, the person must install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) on any vehicle he or she owns or intends to operate. A BAIID is a breath alcohol analyzer that connects with a vehicle’s ignition and other control systems. The BAIID measures the driver’s bodily alcohol content (BAC) and keeps the vehicle from starting if the BAC is 0.025 or higher.

Currently, Michigan drivers are allowed to have an interlock device installed on their vehicle voluntarily. However, even if the interlock device is installed voluntarily, the company that provides the interlock is required to generate a report when the device is used and send that report to the secretary of state.

“I have heard from many parents of young drivers who would like to voluntarily install a breath alcohol interlock device on their family car, but do not want the government involved,” Jones said. “Michigan parents should be able to use current technology to stop their children from making a life-changing mistake while still maintaining a reasonable level of privacy.”

Senate Bill 892 would allow interlock providers to develop, market and sell a SOBER (Startup Operated Breath Engine Restrictor) device in Michigan. The provider of the SOBER device would not be required to transmit a report to the secretary of state when the device is used.

To avoid confusion of law enforcement, the new device would be similar in function to a BAIID, but would be visually different from a state-ordered device.

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Jones’ nonworking traffic light bill headed to governor

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to clarify what drivers should do at an intersection with a nonworking traffic light is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed.

“This is about improving safety on our roads when the power is out and a traffic light isn’t working,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “It can be dangerous if two drivers have different expectations when approaching an intersection where the traffic light is out. If one driver thinks everyone is stopping and another driver thinks he has the right of way, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Senate Bill 521 would require drivers to treat intersections where a traffic signal is malfunctioning as a four-way stop. The bill would not apply to traffic lights that are only active during certain periods, such as signals outside of a school or a fire department.

“Although most drivers believe that an intersection with a nonworking traffic signal becomes a four-way stop, that is not true in Michigan,” Jones said. “I look forward to seeing the governor sign this legislation to end the confusion in Michigan’s law and ensure that all drivers in our state are on the same page when approaching an intersection with a nonworking traffic light.

“It might slow traffic a bit on major roads, but it’s worth it if it can help save lives.”

The Michigan State Police supported the bill, which was approved by the Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday.

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Governor signs Jones bill to prohibit addictive drug

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to prohibit tianeptine sodium in Michigan was signed on Thursday by the governor.

“I applaud the governor and my legislative colleagues on their quick action to protect our communities from the impacts of this highly addictive and dangerous drug,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Abuse of tianeptine sodium has resulted in withdrawal symptoms that can be extremely painful and violent — leading many countries to already restrict its use.”

Senate Bill 801, now Public Act 107 of 2018, adds tianeptine sodium to Michigan’s list of Schedule 2 controlled substances, making it illegal to sell or possess without a valid U.S. prescription.

“The addictive drug has not been approved by the FDA, but it is available on the internet to unsuspecting U.S. consumers,” Jones said.

Jones said that tianeptine sodium was developed in France, where a suggested dosage of the drug as an antidepressant is 10-12 mg. However, it is being found to be administered by people without prescription at 500-3,000 mg.

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Sen. Jones’ veterans club legislation signed

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday signed Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to allow a veterans club to sell beer to members of different chapters of the same organization.

Last year, the Liquor Control Commission (LCC) told a Veterans of Foreign Wars club that they could not sell beer to visiting members from other VFW clubs.

For decades, the American Legion, VFW, Eagles, Moose, and Knights of Columbus clubs allowed visiting members of another club within the same organization to purchase a beer. The LCC had been interpreting the law differently than current club practices.

“I thank the governor for signing this measure to solve this issue and establishing traveling memberships for these organizations,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Many people join nonprofit veterans and fraternal groups to make a difference in their communities and to connect with their brothers and sisters who served our nation.

“This new law will ensure that Michigan veterans can visit their fellow veterans in another town and purchase a beer at the local veterans club.”

Senate Bill 662, now Public Act 104 of 2018, allows a local club of a nonprofit veterans or fraternal organization that is currently allowed to sell alcohol to its members to serve alcohol to members of different branches or chapters of the same organization from across the state.

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