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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There’s bipartisan interest in the state Legislature in protecting Michiganders from having property unfairly seized by police.

State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, wrote in the Detroit News this week that Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture laws need to be revisited. He says too many people never convicted of a crime are having their assets taken so that police departments can profit.

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The state’s top education official says lawmakers should stop allowing new charter schools to open in Michigan. State Superintendent Mike Flanagan told state lawmakers today a moratorium on charter school creation would help stabilize traditional public schools – especially ones in high-poverty areas.

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One of the top Republicans in the state House has introduced bills that would make sweeping changes to Michigan’s energy policies. It comes ahead of Governor Rick Snyder’s address on the issue next week.

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People who attack sports referees would face tougher penalties under legislation in the state Senate.

Under the bills, a person would face up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for attacking a referee.

Inside the Michigan Senate
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State lawmakers are debating whether someone should face penalties if they fail to act when they know someone else is in danger.

A state Senate panel is holding hearings on the concept – but no bill has been introduced yet.


Gov. Rick Snyder is getting some tough questions about the May ballot proposal to boost road funding at his education and economic summit this week in Detroit.

The plan would raise the state’s sales tax from 6% to 7% and boost road funding by about a $1 billion a year.

Michigan's Capitol.
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State lawmakers have approved diverting surplus school aid revenues to help close a $500 million budget hole.

The legislation would shift $250 million in money originally earmarked for the state’s School Aid Fund.  Another bill in the package would make cuts to several state departments.

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The State House has approved legislation that would overhaul the way Michigan approves concealed pistol licenses.

The legislation would abolish county gun boards which approve the licenses. Those duties would go to county clerks with the State Police conducting background checks.

State Representative Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, says the gun boards sometimes discriminate against applicants.

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State lawmakers say Michigan set the stage for states like Wisconsin to consider right-to-work laws.

Thousands of protesters gathered at the Wisconsin state Capitol on Tuesday as lawmakers there held a hearing on the measure. It would ban requirements that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Have you forgotten about the snow already?
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Bitter cold weather and snow continues to cause Michigan schools to cancel days.

Many Michigan school districts have already called off classes for six or more days. That’s the limit on how many days schools can close without tacking on extra time at the end of the school year.


The state’s top budget official says he would support limiting the amount of money a business could claim in tax credits each year.

Michigan faces a significant budget hole this year and next. That’s because an unexpected number of businesses are cashing in tax credits that were created during the recession to help spur economic growth.

Hyatt Guns

Retired federal law enforcement officials would be able to carry concealed weapons in “no carry zones” under a bill approved by the state Senate. The bill got overwhelming bipartisan support.

“No carry zones” include places such as schools, day care centers, taverns, hospitals, and sports arenas where concealed weapons are prohibited.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor has cleared another major obstacle.

U.S. and Canadian officials announced an agreement on Wednesday that would have Canada pay for a customs plaza on Michigan’s side of the bridge.

The cost of the plaza has been estimated at $250 million to $300 million.

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A number of controversial gun bills moved closer to a final vote in the state House Tuesday.

A House panel approved bills that would get rid of county gun boards. Those are panels made up mostly of local law enforcement officials which approve or reject concealed pistol licenses. Those duties would go to county clerks and the State Police.

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A group of state lawmakers will try again to make major changes to Michigan’s medical marijuana system.

Bill sponsors say the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law is too vague.

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Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget-cutting executive order, and presented a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. Schools, universities, and local governments were spared cuts as part the order to help clear away a deficit.

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The state Senate is urging Congress to end endangered species protections for gray wolves in Michigan. It passed the resolution Tuesday on a mostly party-line vote.

Michigan has been debating for years whether to allow a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. That question was recently put to rest when a federal judge ordered Michigan wolves back on the endangered species list.

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Democratic state lawmakers are again hoping to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has said recently that more people who have died or moved out of state must be removed from the state’s voter registration database before lawmakers will agree to stop putting conditions on who can vote absentee.

Jake Neher / MPRN

It looks unlikely that a proposal to allow the death penalty in Michigan will go anywhere this term.

A resolution in the state Senate would allow the death penalty for people convicted of murdering police officers in the line of duty.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

The Michigan Bureau of Elections says Gov. Rick Snyder did not break campaign finance laws during his State of the State speech last month.

The bureau dismissed a complaint accusing the governor of using taxpayer dollars to advocate for a May ballot proposal to raise the sales tax. Snyder told voters to “vote yes” on the question at least six times during the speech.

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Two unmarried people would be able to jointly adopt children together under a bill in the state House. Under current law, only married couples or single individuals can be grated parental rights to an adopted child.

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Some state lawmakers want to give voters an alternative to the May 5th ballot proposal to boost funding for roads. That measure would raise the sales tax from six percent to seven percent.

State Representative Anthony Forlini wants to pass a backup plan to raise the money. It would only take effect if voters reject the sales tax increase.

Michigan teens would be able to pre-register to vote under a proposal in Lansing.

The measure would allow 16 and 17 year olds to fill out their voter registration paperwork when they get their driver’s licenses. The state would mail their voter cards when they turn 18.

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The state has rejected ACT’s claim that Michigan unfairly switched its free college entrance exam to the SAT starting in spring 2016.

  ACT protested two aspects of the bidding process. It said the state changed the timeline of the proposed contract and penalized ACT for having a writing portion. It says both of those things unfairly benefitted SAT.

State officials say they reviewed those concerns carefully.

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State lawmakers will try again to crack down on animal cruelty in Michigan.

A state Senate panel will take up a pair of bills on Tuesday that would increase penalties for serial animal abusers. The worst offenders – those who abuse 25 or more animals or who have three or more prior convictions – would face felony charges and up to seven years in prison.

Similar bills failed to clear the Legislature last year.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
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A group of Republican state lawmakers will try again to protect religious practices against state and local government interference.

The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) failed to pass before the legislative session ended last year.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, introduced the bill again this week.

“It’s simply all about protecting and preserving the rights that the Constitution provides for all citizens – not just select groups of citizens,” he said.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder says he has faith the public will approve a May ballot proposal to boost road funding. That’s despite a recent study from a Michigan State University researcher that said the measure might already be in trouble.

The proposal would raise the state’s sales tax from six percent to seven percent. It would increase funding for roads, schools, and local governments.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder is following up his State of the State address on Tuesday by continuing to promote skilled trades. In the speech, Snyder highlighted skilled trades as a way to boost employment, education, and Michigan’s economy during.

The governor visited a mold and die plant in Lansing the morning after the speech to highlight programs that train skilled workers.

“They’re not jobs that go away easily,” Snyder told reporters at the event. “If you think about huge capital equipment, you need well-trained, really good people running that equipment.”

The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take same-sex marriage cases from Michigan and three other states. The high court will decide this term whether the states' bans are constitutional.

In its decision to hear the case, the Supreme Court said the cases will be consolidated to answer two questions. From the decision:


The ACT is appealing Michigan’s decision to switch its eleventh grade standardized test to the SAT.

The state gives high school juniors a free college entrance exam as part of their state assessment.

The ACT claims the state’s bidding process unfairly favored the SAT. For example, it said ACT lost points because it includes a writing portion.

State officials say they made an extra effort to make sure the bidding process was fair.