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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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.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

A bill that would end local wage and benefit laws has cleared the state Senate.

The legislation would stop communities from setting their own living wage and workplace rules – among other things.

Marijuana plant
bobdoran / Flickr

A couple of groups hoping to legalize marijuana in 2016 have a green light to move forward.

A state elections board signed off on each group’s petition language Thursday. They can now begin collecting signatures.

Elizabeth / Creative Commons

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a new law tying welfare benefits to school attendance.

For more than two years, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services policy has ended cash assistance for families with children who persistently miss school. This cements that policy in state law.

jimmiehomeschoolmom / flickr

The incoming state superintendent says he wants to cut down on the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests.

Brian Whiston answered questions from lawmakers on Wednesday for the first time. He says the state may need to move away from the brand new M-STEP exam.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House has approved a Republican plan to boost road funding by about $1 billion a year. It would shift most of the money from existing funds in the state budget.

Democrats criticized the plan. They say it relies too heavily on projected economic growth in coming years. And they strongly oppose provisions that would increase fees for alternative fuel vehicles and eliminate a tax credit for the working poor.

All Eminov / Flickr http://ow.ly/O6goi

Michigan would allow people to drink alcohol on so-called “pedal pubs” under bills making their way through the Legislature.

A state House panel on Tuesday approved regulating the four-wheel pedal-powered vehicles, which allow people to drink alcohol while cycling between destinations.

Jake Neher / MPRN

For the first time, Michigan will spend general fund dollars to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

State lawmakers recently approved a budget with $500,000 dollars in grant money that programs can apply for.

matthew_hull / morgueFile

A strain of bird flu that has devastated poultry farms across the Midwest has reached Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed the first cases of highly pathogenic avian flu H5N2 in the state. They were found in wild geese in Macomb County.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A plan to boost road funding by about $1 billion a year could clear the state House this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, is pushing a plan that would rely mostly on shifting existing funds in the state budget and expected revenue increases in the coming years.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At least one prominent Republican at the state Capitol believes Detroit Public Schools (DPS) is likely to be dissolved.

State lawmakers are debating ways to help turn around public schools in Detroit. Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to sell them on a plan to turn around the district. It includes shifting money from districts across the state to help DPS pay off debt.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan would give police less freedom to seize and sell property under bills making their way through the state Legislature.

The state House approved the bills on Thursday with wide bipartisan support.

Under the legislation, police would have to report more information about the property they seize through Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture laws.

School Bus
Nicolae Gerasim / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will decide whether to sign a bill tying welfare payments to school attendance.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) already cuts off payments to families with kids who miss a lot of school. The state House has sent the governor a bill that would cement that policy in state law.

Shayan Sanyal / Flickr

Law enforcement groups and prisoner advocates alike are criticizing a bill meant to make it easier for some inmates to get out on parole.

The goal of House Bill 4138 is to cut corrections spending by safely reducing Michigan’s prison population. But the criticism came from all sides at a committee hearing on Tuesday.

Derek Key / Flickr

A state House panel on Tuesday will consider making it easier for some low-level inmates to get out on parole.

“The idea is that we’re trying to reduce our prison population in a way that is fair to everybody concerned, that saves taxpayer dollars, and that helps these individuals reintegrate back into society,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, who also chairs the House Criminal Justice Committee.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are set to take final votes this week on the state budget.

It’s expected to include $500,000 to conduct a study on education funding. The goal is to find out how much it costs to educate a student in Michigan.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Jeb Bush says Michigan is a critical state for Republicans running for president in 2016. The former Florida governor made multiple stops in Michigan on Thursday.

In the afternoon, Bush was in Lansing giving the kind of speech you’d expect from someone eyeing the Republican nomination in 2016. He touted his record as governor of Florida a decade ago and criticized the Obama administration’s economic policies.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

State lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow a private prison near Baldwin to reopen and house high-security inmates. It now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

Vermont intends to move more than 300 high-security inmates to the prison near Baldwin. Those inmates include ones with a history of violent behavior in prison and who have attempted to escape.

Marijuana plant
bobdoran / Flickr

A state board is considering adding autism to the conditions that can legally be treated with medical marijuana in Michigan.

Lisa Smith is the mother of a 6-year-old boy with autism. She says no other treatments have helped.

“As a last resort, I decided to try cannabis,” Smith told reporters after a hearing on Wednesday.

Larry Darling / Flickr http://tinyurl.com/oall5zn

State lawmakers have taken another step to revoke cash assistance from families with kids who persistently miss school.

The state Senate approved the bill on Tuesday with a 26-12 vote.

“The whole goal here is to make sure children are in school because they will succeed and they will have the chance to move ahead with their lives if they are in school,” said state Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan.

user elioja / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state elections board has given a green light to a petition drive to ban prevailing wage requirements in Michigan.

The petition language mirrors legislation currently in the state House that would end laws requiring union-level pay and benefits for workers on publicly-funded construction projects. Those bills appear to be stalled.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

Tuesday is a critical day for two groups – one which hopes to legalize and tax recreational marijuana in Michigan, and another which seeks to ban prevailing wage requirements in the state.

The Board of State Canvassers will review petition language submitted by the Michigan Cannabis Coalition. It’s one of at least three groups working to put a marijuana legalization question on the November 2016 ballot.

Lansing Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Budget talks are wrapping up at the state Capitol. As part of the discussion, lawmakers are looking to cut Michigan’s $50 million film incentive program in half.

Many say the savings should go toward fixing Michigan’s roads.

“There is overwhelming public support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to reprioritize that spending to fix the roads,” Michigan Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Rich Studley told lawmakers last week during a committee hearing on the road funding issue.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

It would be a $50 fine to sell electronic cigarettes to minors under a bill that cleared the state Senate on Wednesday.

Critics say the misdemeanor and fine imposed under Senate Bill 231 won’t go far enough to limit e-cigarettes sales.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

A bill meant to improve teacher evaluations across Michigan has cleared the state Senate.

Similar legislation never got out of the Senate last year. Bill sponsor state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, says Senate Bill 103 relies less on state standardized tests to evaluate teachers and administrators.

Taryn / Flickr

State lawmakers have approved a bill allowing student groups to sell sweets in school to raise money. Senate Bill 139 now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

Student groups have complained new federal guidelines have hindered their ability to fundraise by holding bake sales. Those guidelines are meant to reduce the amount of unhealthy food sold in schools.

michigan.gov

Gov. Rick Snyder outlined a public safety agenda on Monday that includes parole and sentencing reforms, job training for inmates, and more help finding a job once they’re released from prison.

Snyder says there are data-driven ways to reduce the state’s prison population without compromising public safety.

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow / Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hand down a ruling that may decide whether thousands of Michiganders can afford health insurance.

The court could strike down insurance subsidies offered under the federal health care law. That’s in states like Michigan where the federal government runs the health care exchange.

MDOC Director Heidi Washington
Gov. Rick Snyder

The warden of one of the prisons found to have maggots in its food last year will take over as director of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Heidi Washington says she’ll review the department’s controversial contract with the private food service provider Aramark.

“I run one of the more complex facilities in the state, and I have had some issues that are pretty well-known,” Washington said. “But those are from my experience as a facility warden. When I become director, I’ll be looking globally across the whole department.”

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Economists say Michigan has more than a $200 million budget surplus this year. They say revenues will continue to grow in the coming years as the economy improves.

Republican state lawmakers say that supports their plan to use projected growth in the state budget to fix Michigan’s roads.

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