Senate committee approves Jones’ arson deterrent bill

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation designed to deter arson in Michigan, said Sen. Rick Jones, who sponsored one of the measures.

“Arson is a serious and often deadly crime that must be stopped,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “According to the state fire marshal, one-third of all Michigan fires are reported as arson or suspicious blazes. These fires often result in innocent people being hurt or killed, and they cost taxpayers millions of dollars every year.”

Senate Bills 696 and 697 would aid in the determent 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 it’s determined not to have been accidental, until it receives a sworn statement from the insured party that they had nothing to do with the fire.

“Arson fires can tremendously impact insurance costs for all Michigan homeowners, and especially those in a fire’s surrounding community,” Jones said. “My bill is about helping protect homeowners from a neighbor who decides to burn down his house — or have someone do it for him — in order to get the insurance money.”

SB 696, sponsored by Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, would help law enforcement by requiring medical professionals to report treatment of burn victims, especially in the cases where an accelerant helped cause the injury — creating reasonable suspicion that the patient committed arson.

The bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.