LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation designed to deter arson in Michigan.
The measures are sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park.
“This is a bipartisan effort to deter arson in our communities and catch those who commit this serious and often deadly crime,” said Jones, a former sheriff. “The problem is significant. According to the state fire marshal, one-third of all Michigan fires are reported as arson or suspicious blazes. Arson is not a victimless crime. It often results in innocent people being hurt or killed.”
Senate Bills 696 and 697 would aid in the deterrent of arson and increase the effectiveness of arson investigations.
Jones’ bill, SB 697, would help deter arson for the purpose of collecting insurance money. Under the bill, an insurance company would not have to further pay a claim on a building’s fire damage if the fire is determined not to have been accidental, until the insurance company receives a sworn statement from the insured party that they had nothing to do with the fire.
“Arson fires impact all of us. These fires result in increased insurance costs for Michigan homeowners — especially those in a fire’s surrounding area,” Jones said. “My bill is designed to help protect homeowners from a neighbor who decides to burn down his house — or have someone do it for him — in order to cash in the insurance money.”
SB 696 would help law enforcement by requiring medical professionals to report treatment of burn victims, especially in cases in which an accelerant helped cause the injury, which creates reasonable suspicion that the patient committed arson.
The bills now head to House of Representatives for consideration.