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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Politics & Government
6:21 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Road funding talks in flux at state Capitol

Credit WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

It looked like there might be a wave of bipartisan cooperation in Lansing. Lawmakers recently voted to raise the state’s minimum wage and contribute almost $200 million to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore with road funding negotiations in flux.

State lawmakers want to find a way to increase funding for roads in the next couple weeks. That’s when they leave Lansing for the summer.

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Breaking
5:14 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Michigan lawmakers commit $195 million to Detroit's bankruptcy reorganization

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers have committed to contributing $195 million to Detroit's bankruptcy settlement.

The state Senate gave final legislative approval to the bills to help protect retiree pensions and prevent the sale of city-owned artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Today we are all Detroiters and we are all Michiganians,” said U.S District Court Judge Gerald Rosen following the vote. Rosen has been overseeing talks between Detroit and its creditors, and is considered the architect of the "grand bargain."

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Politics & Government
6:32 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Snyder defends “pension tax” in special message on aging

Credit gophouse.com

Governor. Rick Snyder is firing back against critics of his so-called “pension tax.”

Snyder gave a special address on aging Monday in Rochester. He used part of the speech to defend his 2011 decision, which ended the practice of exempting pensions from state income tax.

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Economy
5:27 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Republican wants to make sure state minimum wage doesn’t get tied to inflation

Credit en.wikipedia

A bill to boost Michigan’s minimum wage would not be tied to inflation if a state House committee chair gets his way.

The legislation would gradually boost the wage from $7.40 to $9.20 an hour over three years. After 2017, it would index the minimum wage to inflation.

That last provision is something House Government Operations Committee Chair Pete Lund doesn’t want.

“I’ve never been a fan of that,” said Lund, R-Shelby Township. “And I don’t think that’s good economics. I don’t think that’s good for job creation in the long run.”

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Politics & Government
9:13 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Senate Democrats do not support plan to fix roads

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It looks like efforts to boost state road funding by about $1.4 billion may have stalled in the state Senate. That’s after Senate Democrats came out against the plan because it would significantly increase the state’s gas tax.

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, says increasing the amount people pay at the pump would disproportionately hurt the poor.

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Politics & Government
8:48 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Bill boosting minimum wage to $9.20 an hour to get hearing in state House

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The debate over raising Michigan’s minimum wage moves to the state House Wednesday.

A legislative panel will hear testimony on a bill that cleared the state Senate last week. Senate Bill 934 would gradually increase the wage from $7.40 an hour to $9.20 an hour. After 2017, the minimum wage would rise with inflation.  

State Rep. Pete Lund, R-Shelby Township, chairs the panel. He says he’s open to the plan – but he has some concerns.

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Politics & Government
5:44 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

State Senate could triple road funding increase passed by House

The Senate plan calls for about triple the funding for roads compared to what came out of the House.
Credit net_efekt / Flickr

The Michigan Senate could vote this week on bills that would increase state funding for roads by $1.3-1.4 billion a year. That’s almost triple the amount recently approved by the state House.

Under the Senate plan, people would gradually pay more taxes at the pump over the next few years.

The proposal was brought to light the same day the Michigan Chamber of Commerce unveiled a poll suggesting most Michiganders are ready to pay more for better roads.

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Politics & Government
5:48 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

State Senate votes to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.20 an hour

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill to raise Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.20 an hour by 2017 has cleared the state Senate.

The bill is really an attempt by Republicans in Lansing to kill a petition drive that would raise the minimum wage to 10.10 an hour – including for tipped workers.

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Politics & Government
5:47 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Supporters of raising minimum wage say they have enough signatures

Supporters of raising Michigan's minimum wage say they have enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
Credit Light Brigade / Flickr

Leaders of the petition drive to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour say a Republican attempt to derail their effort is nothing but a “dirty trick.” They also say it won’t stop them from turning in signatures to put their question in front of the Legislature, and, if necessary, voters.

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Law
9:16 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Statewide teacher evaluations move forward in state Legislature

Credit User: ucentralarkansas / Flickr

Legislation that would create a statewide teacher evaluation system has cleared its first hurdle in the Michigan Legislature. A state House panel approved the bills Tuesday with bipartisan support.

A diverse coalition of Michigan education groups recently came out in support of the legislation. Supporters say that could help clear the way for the Legislature to approve the bills before lawmakers leave Lansing in June for two months.

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Politics & Government
5:16 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Pro-gun activists pack heat at the state Capitol

Jim Howley (left) and his son Josh Howley (right) at 2nd Amendment rally at the Michigan capitol today.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

More than 200 gun owners descended on the state Capitol in Lansing Tuesday  many of them openly carrying firearms. Several pro-gun groups from across the country participated in the annual  Second Amendment Day demonstration.

They say the rally is an important way to remind state policymakers to protect residents’ gun rights.

“It lets them know we’re not going to back off,” said Jim Howley of Stevensville. “We’re not going to change our mind, we’re still pushing for the Second Amendment, and pushing for the Constitution in general.”

During the rally, state Representative and congressional candidate Tom McMillan, R-Rochester Hills, announced new pro-gun legislation that would require local governments to take laws off the books that restrict where people can openly carry firearms.

Politics & Government
5:11 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Minimum wage and equal pay advocates join forces at state Capitol

Danielle Atkinson of the Raise Michigan Coalition, and founder of Mothering Justice, speaking with Democratic lawmakers Tuesday at an equal pay rally in the state Capitol.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Women’s rights advocates say boosting the state’s minimum wage would be a big step toward equal pay in the workplace. Groups backing both causes joined forces Tuesday during an equal pay rally at the state Capitol.

“Women are disproportionately represented in low-wage work. So, when we raise the minimum wage we are raising them a little bit more out of poverty,” said Danielle Atkinson with Raise Michigan, a coalition working to put a minimum wage increase on the November ballot.

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Law
10:55 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Bill would define e-cigarettes as tobacco products in Michigan

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Efforts to keep electronic cigarettes out of the hands of minors continue this week in Lansing. A state House panel will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on legislation that would make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.

The smokeless devices produce a nicotine-laced vapor, but do not contain any actual tobacco. The bipartisan bill would define e-cigarettes as tobacco products. But it would also exempt them from the state’s tobacco tax.

“It does not tax e-cigarettes and it does not limit adult use,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Gail Haines, R-Lake Angelus.

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Politics & Government
9:44 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

State senator offers minimum wage hike alternative

Credit Andy Nguyen / Flickr

A Republican in the state Senate wants to boost Michigan’s minimum wage to $8.15 an hour.

Sen. Rick Jones’ introduced the legislation Thursday, which would be an alternative to a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage.

That ballot drive would boost the rate from $7.40 an hour to $10.10 an hour. It would also eventually raise the rate for tipped workers from $2.65 to $10.10 an hour.

Jones, R-Grand Ledge, thinks that kind of increase would put many Michigan restaurants out of business.

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Politics & Government
9:51 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Gov. Snyder and Senate leader not embracing Bolger’s union demands

Bolger's GOP colleagues are distancing themselves from the speaker's call for unions to contribute to Detroit's "grand bargain."
Credit Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Republican leaders in Lansing are not joining House Speaker Jase Bolger’s calls for unions to contribute to Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement.

Gov. Rick Snyder and several foundations have signed off on a complicated deal to protect retiree pensions and artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state’s contribution to the so-called “grand bargain” would be about $350 million, and state lawmakers would have to approve that money.

Bolger, R-Marshall, says it’s only fair for unions to contribute to the deal as well.

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Law
5:46 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Legislature begins debate over $500 million road funding plan

Credit SDOT Photos / Flikr

A plan to boost state road spending by about half-a-billion dollars a year is taking shape. State lawmakers introduced four bills Thursday that are now part of the package.

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Politics & Government
6:14 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Mark Schauer calls education his “top priority” in schools plan

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and running mate Lisa Brown announced their education plan Wednesday in Lansing.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

The Democrat likely to challenge Gov. Rick Snyder in November says improving public schools would be his top priority in office.

Former Congressman Mark Schauer and his running mate, Lisa Brown, unveiled their education plan Wednesday in Lansing.

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Politics & Government
5:13 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Local governments: Tax Day study shows state not paying fair share

The Citizens Research Council says revenues to local governments in Michigan have dropped by about $1 billion in recent years, while state tax revenues have grown by about the same amount.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Local officials say not enough of the revenue Michigan takes in around Tax Day goes to cities, towns, and counties.

The nonpartisan Citizens Research Council released a study Tuesday that shows state revenue grew by more than $1 billion between 2009 and 2012. At the same time, local government revenue dropped by about the same amount.

The Michigan Municipal League (MML) says the disparity between local and state revenue is partly because the state has cut aid to Michigan communities.

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Law
5:15 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Gay couple trying to force state to recognize their marriage, “for our 13 kids”

Plaintiffs Clint McCormack (front), Bryan Reamer (back), and some of their 13 children.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

The ACLU of Michigan is suing the state to force it to recognize the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples who got married last month.

Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer are one of eight couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.

McCormack and Reamer have ten adopted sons and three foster daughters they are raising together in Farmington Hills. They started taking in children in 1998, and McCormack says they only recently decided to stop at 13 kids.

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Education
5:08 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Education groups uniting around bills to revamp teacher evaluations

Education advocates are near consensus on new teacher evaluation standards.
Credit Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

There could be movement soon on bipartisan legislation that would revamp teacher evaluations in Michigan. A number of groups that did not previously support the bills now say they’re on board.

Education advocates, bill sponsors, and lobbyists have been meeting this week to hammer out changes to the legislation.

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