Jake Neher

MPRN Capitol Reporter

Jake Neher is a state Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. 

He joined MPRN in September of 2012. Before that he served as a reporter and anchor for WFUV Public Radio in the Bronx, New York, and as News Director for KBRW Public Radio in Barrow, Alaska. He has been working in radio in some capacity since he was 15 years old.

A native of southeast Michigan, Jake graduated from Central Michigan University in 2010. He has a master's degree in public communications from Fordham University.

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It’s been almost two-and-a-half years since Michigan’s revamped emergency manager law took effect. Thirteen Michigan cities and five school districts are currently under some form of state oversight.

Now, there are growing doubts about the law’s ability to help schools in financial distress.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Dozens of protesters rallied at the state Capitol on Thursday against an aging pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

The group delivered a letter addressed to Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette demanding that the pipeline be shut down.

Michigan Supreme Court
photo courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court dealt two blows to public employee unions on Wednesday.

The court ruled that Michigan’s right-to-work law does apply to state workers. That means they can decline to pay union dues without risking losing their jobs.

Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

Attorneys specializing in marijuana law now have their own division within the State Bar of Michigan.

The state Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals have had to rule on several cannabis issues since voters approved medical marijuana in 2008.

The chair of the new division says it will make it easier to attorneys to keep track of Michigan’s complex and ever-evolving medical marijuana law. 

U.S. Supreme Court
user dbking / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

  Michigan may have to pay up to $2 million in legal fees related to the case that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The six attorneys who successfully challenged the ban want the state to reimburse them for their legal costs. They say they worked thousands of hours on the case – which was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A new bill in the state House would require schools to adopt policies on social media interactions between students and school employees.

Supporters of House Bill 4791 say social media can be a great tool for teachers to communicate with students.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House is scheduled to meet one day this week to try and reach a compromise on road funding.

If a deal doesn’t get done on Tuesday, talks may have to wait until the fall. The House is scheduled to begin a month-long break on Wednesday.

Dank Depot / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

  A Democrat in the state House plans to introduce a bill that would decriminalize and regulate marijuana in Michigan.

State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, says public support for legalization has reached critical mass.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There’s no road funding deal to speak of as state representatives leave Lansing for the week. That means a vote on any plan will have to wait until next week – and possibly until the fall.

It appears Republicans in the state House remain divided on whether a gas tax increase should be part of any plan to boost road funding.

user: Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

GOP leaders in the state House are working to assemble enough Republican votes to pass a road funding plan that’s likely to raise taxes.

House Republicans met on Tuesday to review a Senate-approved plan that raises the state’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. It also includes a possible rollback in the state’s income tax rate – but that depends on growth in revenues to the state’s General Fund.

LucasTheExperience / Flickr

An effort is underway put mandatory paid sick leave for all Michigan workers on the November 2016 ballot.

The proposal would require businesses to offer paid leave if a worker or someone in their immediate family is sick. The initiative from the Time to Care Coalition would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Democrats in the state Legislature are criticizing Republican plans to boost road funding. That’s as the House gets set to take up the debate next week.

The state Senate approved a plan last week that would boost the gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years and shift $700 million from other areas of the budget. It also includes a possible rollback in the state income tax rate.

Oakland University Campus
Oakland University

State lawmakers could consider adding new penalties for universities that hike tuition above the state’s cap on tuition increases. This year, lawmakers set that cap at 3.2 percent.

Oakland University this week decided to join Eastern Michigan University in blowing past the cap. OU will hike tuition 8.48 percent, and EMU will raise tuition 7.8 percent.

Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility
Michigan Department of Corrections / Facebook.com

Michigan improperly spent $1.7 million on health care for former inmates. That’s according to a new audit that tracked payments between October 2011 and April 2014.

The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) pays for inmates to see doctors while they’re in prison. But officials say the problem apparently occurred after more than 300 went back to the same doctors after being released or paroled.

Blue Ocean Faith is an all-inclusive Christian community in Ann Arbor
user Marlith / Flickr

Democrats hope the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage will provide momentum for adding LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law.

Ten Democrats have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) asking him to hold a vote on Senate Bill 315.

They say the fact that Michiganders can be fired or denied housing for being gay reflects poorly on legislative leaders.

“It’s an embarrassment and people are laughing at them right now.

morguefile.com

Veterans who prefer a quieter Fourth of July weekend can find fireworks-free celebrations at a dozen state parks between now and Sunday.

Park officials say the idea for the events came from conversations with veterans. They say the sound of loud fireworks can trigger distressing memories for many vets – especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Jake Neher / MPRN

The race is on to legalize marijuana in Michigan in 2016.

At least three groups are working to put the question in front of voters. But money will play a big role in deciding which of those groups actually makes the ballot.

Michigan House Republicans

The state Senate has approved its $1.5 billion plan to boost road funding.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley cast two tie-breaking votes on bills to gradually raise Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents over three years. Calley says those votes were meant to move the process along toward reaching a final compromise on road funding.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This story has been updated to reflect Sen. Jones' apology.

A race-related debate is causing some tensions in the state Senate after an attempt to rewrite a resolution commemorating the end of slavery.

Senate Resolution 75 celebrates Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating Texas’ formal recognition of the abolition of slavery in 1865.

Wikimedia Commons

The state Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on a road funding proposal that includes a possible income tax rollback.

A state Senate panel approved a plan Tuesday afternoon that could generate about $1.5 billion annually for roads, in part by raising Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years. It would also shift about $700 million in existing state funds to roads.

Jake Neher / Michigan Public Radio Network

A campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan started collecting signatures on Thursday at a rally in front of the state Capitol.

Organizers with the group MILegalize admit it will be a challenge to raise the money needed to collect enough signatures. But they’re optimistic.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Republicans in the state Senate have put a damper on a legislative effort to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.

A Republican-sponsored bill in the state House seems to have wide bipartisan support. But if the House approves the bill, it appears it won’t go any farther.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

Michigan’s top education official says the state should help Detroit Public Schools pay down its massive debt.

The governor and state lawmakers are discussing ways to turn around the district - which is almost $500 million in debt. The district spends $53 million dollars a year on debt service.

  

Outgoing state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says paying off the district’s debt would free up tens of thousands of dollars for every classroom in Detroit.

User mconnors / MorgueFile

Michigan’s film incentives could soon end with the stroke of Gov. Rick Snyder’s pen.

The state House and Senate approved a bill to phase out the film credits on the last day before lawmakers go on an intermittent schedule for the summer.

Film rolls.
Luca Nonato / Flickr

Michigan's film incentives would be completely phased out under a bill approved this morning by the state Senate.

The vote comes a day after Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new state budget that cut funding for the film credits in half compared to the budget passed last year.

The legislation now goes to the state House, which could send the bill to the governor's desk later today.

*We'll have more on this soon.

Thetoad / Flickr

State lawmakers have sent Gov. Rick Snyder a bill that would ban local minimum wage and benefit laws. The bill does not apply to ordinances adopted before this year.

Republican supporters of the legislation say having a patchwork of different wage laws across the state makes Michigan less attractive to businesses.

Democrats and some Republicans have criticized the bill. They say it's an attack on local control.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A plan to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan is gaining significant support from Republicans.

Unlike Michigan, most states no longer set conditions for voting absentee.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Local minimum wage and benefit ordinances in place before this year would no longer be preempted by a controversial bill in the state Legislature.

The state House changed House Bill 4052 so that it would only apply to local ordinances adopted after January 1, 2015. It would still stop communities from passing new laws setting local minimum wages and benefits.

Shayan Sanyal / Flickr

Legislation to compensate people who are wrongly imprisoned in Michigan is moving forward at the state Capitol.

A state House committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to give people $60,000 for every year they are imprisoned plus damages.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Democrats and Republicans in the state House want to end the state’s “zero tolerance” policies in schools.

Federal law requires schools to expel students for bringing guns to school. House Bill 4697 would end state policies forcing schools to expel or suspend students for things like bringing alcohol to school or fighting.

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