Jones named Legislator of the Year by Michigan court officers, deputy sheriffs and process servers

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Court Officers, Deputy Sheriffs and Process Servers’ Association (MCODSA) on Tuesday presented Sen. Rick Jones with the organization’s Legislator of the Year award. MCODSA President Tim Sutherland (left) and MCODSA Vice President Jeff Kirkpatrick presented Jones with the award.

“It is an honor to be recognized for helping support our court officers, our sheriff deputies and our process servers who work hard every day to protect the public,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

Jones is a former Eaton County sheriff and chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph of Jones is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorRickJones.com/Photowire.

Senate approves Jones bill cracking down on threats to judges, police officers

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to protect judges, peace officers and their families from threats intended to affect the legal process.

“I introduced this reform after hearing from judges and law enforcement officers that they and their families were being threatened and harassed in an effort to change the outcome of a case,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “That is totally unacceptable. A cornerstone to our justice system is that we have honest and dedicated peace officers and judges who uphold the law and ensure fairness — free of intimidation or threats.”

Senate Bill 973 would amend the description of hindering, intimidating or obstructing a public officer or employee in the discharge of their duties. The bill would add threatening a public officer or a member of their immediate family to the list of prohibited behaviors and require that the intent must be to interfere with the legal process.

Actions on social media to harass, harm, intimidate or influence a public officer or a member of their immediate family would be covered under the bill.

“The attempts to harass and intimidate the judges and public officers on social media have been increasingly brutal and unsafe,” Jones said. “Public officers sign up to serve the people and some put themselves in dangerous situations on a regular basis for the good of our communities. They should never have to fear that someone might harm their family as a result of them doing their job.”

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Jones introduces Patty Birkholz recreation passport bill

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones on Wednesday introduced legislation to honor of the service and legacy of the late Sen. Patty Birkholz by renaming the state’s recreation passport fee in her name. Birkholz passed away in May after a short battle with cancer.

“Enjoying our great outdoors is part of what makes Michigan such a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said Jones, R- Grand Ledge. “No one understood that more than Patty Birkholz. She was a fierce advocate for Michigan’s natural resources and environment, and it would be a fitting tribute to Patty’s lifetime of work and dedication to our outdoors that we name the program that engages people with Michigan’s natural beauty in her honor.”

Jones’ bill would rename the current Michigan Recreation Passport Fee the “Senator Patty Birkholz Recreation Passport Fee” as a testament to Birkholz’s efforts to protect Michigan’s natural resources and ensure Michigan’s state parks were safe and accessible for generations to come.

Birkholz was first elected to the Michigan Legislature in 1996. She served in the House from 1997 to 2002 and in the Senate from 2003 to 2010.

Upon leaving the Senate, Birkholz was appointed director of the Office of the Great Lakes by Gov. Rick Snyder and as the Michigan representative to the Great Lakes Commission.

“It will be hard for anyone to match Patty’s contributions to our state,” Jones said. “In addition to the state parks passport program, she led the effort to have Michigan join the Great Lakes basin compact and enact significant laws to protect our waters — including ballast water standards to prevent the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes.”

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Jones bill would clarify restrictions of weapons in airports

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones has introduced legislation to update Michigan law prohibiting carrying a weapon into an airport.

“The Prosecuting Attorneys Association advised me that current Michigan law concerning someone carrying a gun into an airport needs to be updated,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Our state law needs to meet the current federal definition about weapons in airports so that prosecutors will be able to press charges against those who violate the law.”

Currently, Michigan has an outdated reference to federal law in state statute, creating the uncertainty of the exact locations that weapons cannot be possessed or carried in commercial airports.

Senate Bill 1099 would update the definition of “sterile area” to coincide with the current federal definition, to clearly state where a firearm, explosive, knife, razor, or a dangerous weapon is prohibited in an airport.

According to the Transportation Security Administration’s Year in Review report, a record-high number of firearms were discovered last year in carry-on bags across the country. The nearly 4,000 guns found at airport security checkpoints in 2017 is roughly a 17 percent increase from 2016.

“As a former sheriff, safety and security is of the utmost importance to me — especially in airports,” Jones said. “I also want to make sure the main focus of our security efforts in airports remains on those who have bad intentions and are trying to hurt people — not on those who are allowed to carry weapons and simply forgot they were in their luggage.”

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**Media Advisory** Sen. Jones to participate in Special Olympics ‘Legislative Polar Plunge’ at Capitol

<strong>Who:</strong>
Sen. Rick Jones, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee

<strong>What:</strong>
2015 Legislative Polar Plunge

<strong>When:</strong>
Thursday, March 5. The plunge will begin at 3 p.m.

<strong>Where:</strong>
State Capitol
West Lawn
Lansing, MI

<strong>Brief:</strong>
Jones, R-Grand Ledge, serves on the board of the Michigan Special Olympic Committee and will be participating in a Polar Plunge for the fifth time.

Funds raised by the plunges assist nearly 21,000 athletes who participate in Special Olympics Michigan, a year round program offering sports for those with intellectual disabilities.

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Sen. Jones honored by pastors for work supporting children, families

LANSING—Members of Shepherding the Next Generation (SNG) presented Sen. Rick Jones with the 2014 Fellowship & Stewardship Award at an Honors Breakfast in Lansing on Tuesday. 

Jones was recognized for outstanding fellowship shown to Michigan’s children and families through support of proven programs that help prepare the next generation of family and community leaders.

“I am truly honored to receive this award from pastors and ministry leaders who are dedicated to strengthening our families and communities through education,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I have long supported early-childhood education programs that have a proven record of benefitting both students and taxpayers. By better ensuring that children are prepared to learn, we can help improve a child’s chance at success and also reduce the number of students who need to repeat grades, which can save Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars each year.”

Pastor Chris Carter, youth pastor at Northpointe Community Church in Dewitt and an executive committee member of SNG, presented the award.

“Shepherding the Next Generation’s member pastors are pleased to acknowledge the work of Senator Rick Jones and present him with our Fellowship & Stewardship Award,” said Carter. “It is in recognition of his support for our children through funding of quality preschool for eligible 4-year-olds in Michigan. This program is essential to prepare the next generation of community leaders.”

The effort to fully fund the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) – Michigan’s state-funded preschool – was spearheaded by Gov. Snyder, who indicated in his State of the State address that he wanted to make Michigan a “no-wait” state for preschool.  The governor was also presented the Fellowship & Stewardship Award for his collaboration with lawmakers to increase the GSRP by $130 million to provide access to high-quality preschool for all eligible 4-year-olds.

Shepherding the Next Generation – Michigan is part of a national nonprofit membership organization of evangelical pastors and ministry leaders who are committed to strengthening families and communities by strengthening the next generation.

According to SNG, “For young children, early education can help lay the foundation for future academic and social success. For many children at risk, their parents cannot always afford quality early education programs and the surrounding circumstances often take priority over a parent ensuring their child is ready for school. As a result, too many disadvantaged children start school already behind their classmates in early math and reading skills. They often lack the social skills needed to follow teachers’ directions and get along with their peers. These problems can create a pattern of failure that lasts a lifetime. High-quality early childhood education can give at-risk children the strong start they will need in school and in life. Research of the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti shows that, among participants in the program versus those not in the program, high school graduation was significantly higher, students graduated on schedule and had higher incomes. This adds greatly to individual, family and community stability.

“Further, the programs save valuable taxpayer dollars though substantial savings produced when successful students are less reliant on social welfare or involved in the justice system.”

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Senate approves Jones’ foster children bills

LANSING—Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to help ensure the best care and placement for foster children was approved on Thursday by the Michigan Senate.

“During my time in law enforcement, I saw first-hand some of the horrible situations many young children must endure in Michigan,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “As a foster grandpa, I have also seen the strength that children possess to make it through hard times.”

Jones said that the University of Michigan Law School Legislation Clinic brought the measures to his attention.

“I have been working with them, the Children’s Law Section Council and the state Department of Human Services, to make sure that we are helping our foster children,” Jones said.

Senate Bill 994 would allow for reinstating parental rights if a biological parent has proven that he or she is now fit to care for their child and if that child is still a legal orphan.

SBs 995-997 would place a greater emphasis on sibling placement and visitation with both siblings and parents. If siblings cannot be placed together, then a priority of visitations and ongoing interaction will be emplaced to ensure a sibling bond. SB 997 would allow visitation between non-custodial, biological parents and their children with approval of the court.

“It is important to keep family units together, and a bond between siblings is one of the most cherished parts of a family,” Jones said. “I have seen the positive impact of placing siblings together in my own daughter’s home. Likewise, as long as there is no harm to a foster child seeing their biological parent, they should be able to spend time together and preserve their family bond.”

SBs 994-997 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Sen. Jones urges Congress to stop closure of Lansing mail processing center

LANSING—A resolution sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones formally requests Congress to prohibit the U.S. Postal Service from closing or consolidating the mail processing and distribution center on Collins Road in Lansing.

“It is long overdue that Congress and President Obama come together and finally fix the postal service,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Closing the Lansing mail processing center could lead to a slippery slope where mail in mid-Michigan is eventually delivered only a couple times a week.

“The president sends billions of dollars overseas – taxpayer dollars that could be better put to use ensuring the U.S. Postal Service provides efficient daily mail service. Keeping open the Lansing facility is part of that effort.”

Senate Resolution 189 states that the U.S. Postal Service plans to close or consolidate the Lansing facility on Jan. 5, 2015.

The resolution urges congressional intervention to stop the proposal, which “will cause the delay of mail and elimination of overnight delivery of first-class mail.”

Once adopted by the Senate, copies of Jones’ resolution would be sent to the president of the U.S. Senate, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representative and each member of the Michigan congressional delegation.  

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Sen. Jones applauds voter approval of expanded BWL representation

LANSING—Sen. Rick Jones on Wednesday applauded the nearly 2-to-1 approval by Lansing voters to amend the city charter to create three non-voting seats on the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) to represent the utility’s suburban customers.

“I am very happy with the overwhelming results of the Lansing election concerning regional representation and accountability at the Board of Water & Light,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. 
“I have fought for outside oversight of the BWL, and this will give a voice to the nearly 39 percent of BWL customers who live outside the city of Lansing. Now, the communities of Delta Township, East Lansing and other areas will have three new members of the Board of Commissioners looking out for them.”

Under the new charter terms, one new BWL board member will represent East Lansing, one will represent Delta Township and one at-large seat will rotate annually between Meridian, Delhi, DeWitt and Lansing townships.

A second reform giving the mayor emergency authority over BWL during a crisis was also approved.

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Governor signs Jones bills to help ensure justice for rape victims

LANSING—Comprehensive measures sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to support victims of sexual assault were signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday.

“As a father and former sheriff, I know all too well about the devastation these crimes can bring,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I want to thank Governor Snyder and the bipartisan team of lawmakers for their help in bringing some justice and relief to victims.”

Public Act 318 of 2014, sponsored by Jones, will create a commission consisting of high-level state officials and victim’s rights organization members who are experts in this matter and will place a high priority on the well-being of victims throughout the process. The commission will be tasked with establishing a system to track, audit and fund the submission of all released sexual assault evidence kits.

Jones’ other bill, PA 321, will, upon the victim’s request, require medical testing for venereal disease, hepatitis B and C, and HIV within 48 hours of indictment of an offender for criminal sexual conduct.

The governor on Tuesday also signed PAs 319 and 320, sponsored by Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit. These laws will require law enforcement agencies to inform victims of the availability of sexual assault evidence kits and set timelines concerning the kits from the time a health care facility obtains consent to release an evidence kit to the time it must be analyzed.