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.

Ways To Connect

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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.

State capitol
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.

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

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are a step closer to giving Flint mayoral candidates another shot at getting on the primary ballot.

A state Senate panel unanimously approved a one-time legislative fix on Thursday.

Construction pit.
Christopher Peplin / Flickr

The state Senate has voted to ban prevailing wage requirements in Michigan. Those laws mandate union-level pay and benefits for workers on publicly-funded construction projects.

Supporters of Senate Bills 12, and 3 say prevailing wage artificially drives up the cost of taxpayer-funded projects, and repealing it would save the state and communities millions of dollars every year.

Wikimedia Commons

Republicans in the state House have rolled out their plan to boost road funding after Proposal One’s historic failure.

They say their proposal would raise $1.05 billion for roads, mainly by relying on projected growth in the state budget. It would also eliminate the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families and Michigan’s film incentives.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Responsibility for turning around Michigan’s worst schools now lies directly with Gov. Rick Snyder.

 His order taking direct control of school turnarounds – which was issued earlier this year – took effect Tuesday. Those duties previously belonged to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), which is governed by the elected State Board of Education (SBE).

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State House Republicans could introduce legislation to boost road funding as soon as this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, says he’s interested in tapping restricted pools of money in the budget and economic development funds to raise more than $1 billion a year for roads. He told reporters last week he won’t put forward a plan that relies mostly on raising taxes.

Construction along 1-96 in Michigan.
I-96 Fix / Facebook

Unions are expected to push back this week against bills that would repeal prevailing wage laws in Michigan.

A state Senate panel is expected to hold hearings on Senate Bills 1, 2, and 3. The legislation would ban laws requiring union-level compensation for workers on publicly-funded construction projects.

v1ctory_1s_m1ne / Flickr

The state Senate will move forward with legislation to end prevailing wage requirements in Michigan. The state and many communities require that workers on publicly-funded construction projects get union-level pay and benefits.

Senate Bills 1, 2, and 3 would repeal those laws.

American flag.
Corey Seeman / Flickr

A number of Republican presidential hopefuls are descending on Michigan. Three confirmed and likely candidates made stops across the state on Monday.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker – who has not yet confirmed his candidacy- spoke at a GOP gathering in Ingham County. He focused on foreign policy, criticizing the records of President Obama and Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton.

Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

Bills to expand access to medical marijuana in Michigan may be benefiting from efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016.

 At least three Michigan groups are already pursuing petition drives to legalize marijuana in 2016. 

Jake Neher / MPRN

Governor Rick Snyder today renewed his opposition to allowing people to openly carry firearms in schools. He made the remarks while pro-gun activists rallied down the street outside the state Capitol.

 “What we’d like to see as a compromise is to allow concealed carry in schools. That will help alleviate the problem of any disruptions caused from carry,” said rally organizer Brady Schickinger, who directs the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners.

american flag and lgbt flag
Flickr user Praveen / Flickr

On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over same-sex marriage, state lawmakers took testimony on a bill that could shape how some businesses react to the court’s ruling.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, introduced the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). He says Senate Bill 4 would simply protect religious practices against government interference.

Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan families could lose their cash assistance if one or more of their children persistently miss school. That’s under a bill approved by the state House on Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Human Services already cuts off welfare payments due to child truancy. House Bill 4041 would put that policy into state law.

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission hopes to help local governments draft non-discrimination laws.

The commission has released a model civil rights ordinance communities can use as a template for their own laws.

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