Rick Jones

Inside the Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Republican-led Michigan Senate has voted to make it a crime to coerce a woman to have an abortion against her will.

The legislation would prohibit stalking or assaulting a pregnant woman or anyone else with the intent to force an abortion against her wishes. After learning that a woman does not want an abortion, a person also could not threaten to cut off legally required financial support or withdraw from a contract with her.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan soldiers and sailors may soon have new protections in child custody cases.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Legislation is moving through the state Legislature to improve the way law enforcement agencies handle evidence in sexual assault cases.

In 2009, more than 11,000 rape kits were discovered unprocessed in a Detroit police storage facility. Some of the sexual assault cases dated back more than 20 years. 

In the years since the discovery, testing has linked the DNA of 100 serial rapists to the kits. A national database has linked samples to crimes committed in about two dozen other states. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It may soon be a misdemeanor in Michigan to post “revenge porn” on the Internet.

A half-dozen states already have laws on the books to punish people who post nude or sexually explicit photos to the Web without the person’s consent.

Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan voters could see a question about increasing the minimum wage on the ballot this year. A petition drive is under way to collect enough signatures. But one Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage in Michigan. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, wants to increase the minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour and an increase from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour for tipped workers.

“I’m suggesting that this is a good alternative," Jones says. "I don’t want to see all these waiters and waitresses lose these jobs; many of them are single moms who depend on this income and this is very good income for somebody typically with just a high school diploma."

Jones believes that minimum wage is intended as a starter job and that there are good jobs in Michigan, but that companies are having a difficult time filling those positions. Jones emphasizes that people need to understand the risks behind a possible ballot proposal to increase the minimum wage.

It’s Michigan minimum wage redux. This week, conservative Republican state Senator Rick Jones introduced a bill to increase Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour. The measure would also increase the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour.

Yes, you read that correctly. A Republican lawmaker wants to increase the state’s minimum wage.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

In Michigan, you can no longer invoke trespassing laws to avoid being served court papers at your door.

At the end of 2013, a new law took effect to exempt process servers from trespassing laws.

Michigan Sen. Rick Jones sponsored the legislation.    He says the goal is to increase safety for process servers who sometimes are confronted with threats of violence.

Thomas Lersch via Wikimedia Commons)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - New legislation in Lansing would ban private ownership of monkeys, apes and lemurs.

Sen. Rick Jones said this week that the average person doesn't have the necessary training or equipment to properly care for nonhuman primates. The Grand Ledge Republican's bill would apply going forward and allow current owners to keep their pets.

Jones cites a 2009 incident when a Connecticut woman was mauled and disfigured by her chimpanzee.

You know by now that the Michigan Senate has finally voted to approve expanding Medicaid benefits.

The vote, which came Tuesday night after months of struggle, means that eventually nearly half a million of our citizens will have at least basic health care, people who don’t have it now.

The cost to the state itself will be nothing for three years, and only a pittance afterwards. The benefits in terms of human decency and a healthier workforce, enormous.

Those who opposed Medicaid expansion said they didn’t think we should burden future generations with another “entitlement cost.” Many of them also admitted their opposition was based on their hatred of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which they continue to oppose even though it was passed by Congress, passed Constitutional muster with the Supreme Court, and essentially ratified by the voters in last year‘s presidential election.

Flickr user taberandrew / Flickr

The Michigan State Police and some lawmakers say it’s time to boost speed limits across the state. Many limits have not been adjusted for decades.

Republican state Senator Rick Jones plans to introduce legislation next month to increase the limits. The former county sheriff says the measure would also reduce speed traps.

“We have had some artificially lower speed limits posted. I believe many of them are posted for revenue, and it simply is not needed.”

The legislation would require local governments to set speed limits based on scientific studies.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A state lawmaker says he has a plan to drive down Michigan’s high gas prices.

Senator Rick Jones says it’s time to build a new oil refinery.   But not everyone’s sold on the plan.

Jones introduced legislation that would give a ten-year property and equipment tax exemption to any company willing to build a new refinery in Michigan.

“And that’s exactly what we need in Michigan to make sure we have adequate supplies,” says Jones.

Jones says more supply means lower prices at the pump.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is cool to a proposal to roll back Michigan’s new pension tax.

The pension tax was part of a package enacted in 2011 that eliminated the Michigan Business Tax.

A group of five Republican state senators wants to repeal the pension tax and reinstate some homestead property tax credits.

Governor Snyder says the tax on pensions is just a matter of fairness, so that the tax burden falls equally. The governor insists the tax that pensioners are now paying is not too much ask.

Michigan State Police

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More Michigan residents may soon be added to the state's online public sex offender registry.

The full House passed a bill Tuesday that would require people convicted of a single Tier I offense for some crimes involving minors to be placed on the online sex offender registry.

Offenses that would qualify would include unlawful imprisonment if the victim is a minor and knowingly possessing sexually abusive material of a child.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge says the bill will allow the public to "protect their children and grandchildren."

The House Fiscal Agency reports that a few hundred people would be added to the state's public registry. Currently people convicted of Tier II and III offenses are already placed on the registry.

user elioja / Flickr

Bills in the state House would let insurance companies deny coverage for medical marijuana.

Employers could also refuse to reimburse medical marijuana expenses through workers compensation.

Opponents of the legislation say it discriminates against a legal form of patient care.

Republican state Senator Rick Jones said many opponents of the bills simply want to abuse the system.

Rick Jones

Detroit is at a political impasse that could lead to a financial collapse next month.

Now, one state legislator is saying Lansing should consider “all its options”—including possibly dissolving the city as a municipality.

The idea of dissolving Detroit—and effectively merging it with Wayne County—has popped up occasionally in some business and political circles recently.

But mid-Michigan senator Rick Jones is the first official to publicly discuss that as an option.

Jones says Detroit’s local leaders just aren’t dealing with the city's fiscal problems—and having the state’s biggest city file for municipal bankruptcy would be “horrible.”

“I think everything is on the table,” Jones said. “ I would be willing to consider dissolving the city, if that’s what it took.

“One of the options could be actually dissolving the city of Detroit, and putting all of their functions back into Wayne County. That is possible.”

Still, Jones acknowledges this merger scenario is “unlikely.” He says the prevailing discussion in Lansing is about bankruptcy versus some kind of state intervention.

Lawmakers in Lansing are also considering passing a revised version of the emergency manager law voters overturned in November.

Detroit faces the possibility of running out of cash in mid-December.

A bill before a Michigan Senate panel would reform the state's public defender system.
Bill Ledbetter / flickr

A Senate panel has begun hearing arguments on a bill to fix the way Michigan counties provide defense attorneys to the poor.

The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s still skeptical about the legislation.

Senator Rick Jones says it’s clear a handful of counties are having problems appointing competent public defenders. But he says he still doesn’t see it as a statewide issue that requires sweeping changes.

Nancy Diehl is the former president of the State Bar of Michigan, which supports the bill.

Yesterday, the chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and quickly  pushed through what everyone is calling an anti-abortion bill, sending it on to the full Senate.

It was clear that this wasn’t meant to be a deliberative process. Legally, any committee has to give at least 18 hours notice before holding any hearing.

When the legislature wants public comment, they usually give several days notice. In this case, it was almost  exactly 18 hours. The committee chairman, Senator Rick Jones, pretty much admitted he was ramming this bill through.

Michigan Senate Republicans

The state Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would require clinics and doctor’s offices where abortions are performed to be licensed and inspected. Critics of the bill say its real purpose is to put abortion providers out of business.

Rick Jones chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“The purpose is to make sure that clinics are licensed and safe. Certainly, a state that licenses junkyards, tattoo parlors, and used car lots would want to license abortion clinics,” he said.

State Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge might want to watch his back for the next few weeks, or maybe, decades. Yesterday, he threatened to violate a time-honored legislative custom.

Lawmakers at all levels are traditionally known for telling the people “do what we say, not what we do.”

Michigan Senate passes missing children bill

Oct 25, 2011

A proposal that would require parents to report missing children immediately to authorities was approved by the state Senate today.

The bill was named “Caylee’s Law” by supporters, in response to the controversial Casey Anthony case in Florida.

The child’s mother waited 31 days before reporting her daughter missing.

State Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) says he was surprised to learn Michigan does not have an early-reporting law in place for missing children.

“I think it’s very important that parents report their children missing in a timely fashion. The outrageous case that drew this to our attention was the one of little Caylee, that the mother didn’t report her missing for over 30 days."

Jones added:

“As a former sheriff of Eaton County and 31 years of law enforcement, I don’t believe there is any reason for a parent to delay reporting their child missing.”

Under the bill, parents or caretakers would have 24 hours to report missing children under the age of 13 or could face up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The bill has been sent to the state House.

Kconnors / MorgueFile

Members of the Michigan legislature are considering several bills that would amend the state’s medical marijuana law. One bill would create a database of marijuana license holders.

Republican state senator Rick Jones says many schools may soon demand that teachers pay at least 20-percent of their health insurance premiums. 

Jones has introduced a bill that would keep a school’s per-pupil funding intact, if teachers agree to the cuts. 

But he says teachers shouldn't be the only one making the sacrifice.

"I learned that senators and representatives pay anywhere from 5% to 7.6%, and I thought, how is that fair that we’re paying that and teachers are being asked to pay 20%?"

Jones says his new bill would require state legislators to pay 20% of their health insurance premiums. 

He has also introduced a bill to alter the lifetime health insurance that legislators receive after serving only six years, calling it “obscene.”

The bill would phase in the benefit, beginning at ten years of service.