Jessica Heeringa’s mother discusses proposed “Jessica’s Law”

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LANSING, Mich. -- With supporters by her side, Jessica Heeringa's mother Shelly traveled to Lansing to speak with lawmakers about a bill to protect gas station employees.

Shelly Heeringa told the state house commerce committee about her daughter's disappearance and the heartache she's lived with since April 2013.

Police believe the 25-year-old was abducted.

Jessica Heeringa worked as a gas station clerk at an Exxon gas station in Norton Shores. It was nighttime when she went missing.  She was alone, and there were no cameras.

These are a few concerns Shelly Heeringa recalls discussing with her daughter.

"I was so worried and that was like our conversation every time I'd go up there," her mother said in an interview.

Now Jessica's 4-year-old son continues to wonder where his mother is.

"If you have a daughter, a sister, thank God that they're still with you," Shelly Heeringa said.

For the second time, Heeringa supporters, including law enforcement, are urging lawmakers to pass a bill requiring gas station owners install surveillance cameras or have at least two employees working together at night.

"Three states have adopted similar legislation: Florida, West Virginia and New Mexico," Collene Lamonte, the state representative from Muskegon County said

After Heeringa disappeared, Lamonte said she started working with the family and law enforcement on drafting the bill.

She said the first bill failed because business owners were concerned government was telling them how to spend their money.

There were concerns about cost for a camera system and adding an employee. However, Lamonte presented a list of cameras that are relatively inexpensive.

Muskegon County prosecutor DJ Hilson, Sheriff Dean Roesler and Detective Sergeant Michael Kasher (Norton Shores) said cameras are a theft deterrent . Because of this, they said a business' insurance costs may drop and installing the equipment is the right thing to do.

Lamonte rhetorically asked, "Is a person's life worth more than a couple hundred dollars? Shouldn't workers have a reasonable expectation of feeling safe within their own working environment?"

Shelly Heeringa said, "I hope there's no question that this bill needs to be passed."

Lamonte hopes the committee will vote on the bill and get it onto the house floor before the end of session in December.

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