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
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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Law
5:39 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Bill to fight scrap metal theft signed into law

The bill prevents scrappers from getting instant cash for commonly-stolen items over $25. From left, Rep. Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City, Gov. Rick Snyder, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s chief of staff, Lisa Howze.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Michigan now has tougher laws on the books meant to crack down on scrap metal theft.

Under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday, people can no longer get instant cash when they sell commonly stolen items for $25 or more.

Supporters say mailing payments for those items will help law enforcement by creating a paper trail. They say communities all over the state have been literally ripped apart by illegal scrapping.

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Politics & Government
5:51 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Feds approve center to encourage immigrant investment in Michigan

Michigan's new immigration center will provide visas for people who invest at least $1 million in the state and create at least ten jobs.
Credit lcars / Flickr

Michigan will be only the second state in the country to run a statewide center meant to encourage investment from immigrants.

The center will provide visas for people who invest at least $1 million in the state and create at least ten jobs. The required investment goes down to $500,000 if it is made in a rural community or one with high unemployment.

This is one piece of Gov. Rick Snyder’s strategy to attract more immigrants to Michigan. His administration expects the center to bring in at least $30 million and create 600 new jobs every year.

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Politics & Government
5:04 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Some Democrats skeptical about proposal to fix roads

A state House Republican plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure is drawing criticism from some prominent Democrats.

The proposal seeks to boost road funding by about $500 million a year. That’s well short of the $1-2 billion most estimates say is needed to adequately address the problem.

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Politics & Government
2:44 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Mark Schauer announces Lisa Brown as his running mate

Mark Schauer and Lisa Brown at today's announcement.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Mark Schauer has made it official. He has chosen Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown to be his running mate in this year’s race for governor.

Schauer, a former congressman from Battle Creek, is the likely Democratic challenger to Gov. Rick Snyder in November.

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Politics & Government
4:46 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

VA: Vets won’t risk losing benefits for treating PTSD with medical pot

Credit bobdoran / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says Michigan vets will not lose their federal benefits if they legally use medical marijuana. The VA’s statement is a response to the state’s decision to add post-traumatic stress disorder to its medical marijuana program.

Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Director Steve Arwood approved the change a couple weeks ago. But he urged veterans to consult with a VA representative first. He said it was unclear whether using medical marijuana would put their federal benefits at risk.

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Politics & Government
6:23 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

MSU could lose $500k for offering labor courses

makzhou Flickr

Michigan State University could risk losing $500,000 if it does not stop offering courses that allegedly promote unionization.

A state Senate panel approved a measure Thursday banning courses at public universities that promote or discourage organizing efforts. It’s a reaction to MSU’s recent decision to take over some programs from the National Labor College.

Republicans say those courses violate the proposed rule.

“I believe in academic freedom, and you’re going to have difficult subjects that you’re going to cover at any university,” said state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who chairs the panel that directs higher education funding in the House. 

“But this is a case where I think we’re almost encouraging labor disputes, and I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

The only Democrat that sits on the Senate panel that approved the penalty says it’s unusual for lawmakers to scrutinize university programs this intensely.

“Why just this program?” asked state Sen. Morris Hood III, D-Detroit. “And I would guess to believe that this is a hot topic item and it ruffles a lot of feathers.”

An MSU official says the university’s curriculum is balanced. He says it also offers classes that educate businesses on labor issues.

Pscholka says lawmakers will probably decide whether to move forward with the $500,000 penalty when they return from a three-week break in April.

Politics & Government
4:56 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Michigan lawmakers urge Congress to require a balanced federal budget

user cedarbenddrive Flickr

Michigan is joining at least 17 other states in calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On Wednesday, the state Senate gave final approval to a resolution formally asking Congress to call a constitutional convention to consider the amendment. It would take 34 total states to compel Congress to call a constitutional convention.

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