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
3:46 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

State board rejects petition to raise Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour

Credit sushi ina / flickr

A state elections board has rejected a petition to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in a 3 to 1 vote.

The Board of State Canvassers says the campaign failed to collect enough valid signatures to move forward.

John Pirich is with the group opposing the minimum wage proposal. He praised the board for throwing out dozens of duplicate signatures.

“I’m 100% confident that what we’ve shown them in terms of duplication will be confirmed by any review of any of them.”

Groups that support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could challenge the decision in court. They say the elections board went out of its way to throw out petition signatures.

*This post has been updated.

Politics & Government
11:25 am
Thu July 24, 2014

State elections board approves petition to allow wolf hunting in Michigan's UP

A wolf in a snow storm at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Larry McGahey Flickr

A petition that would allow future wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula is headed to the state Legislature.

The initiative would allow the hunts regardless of how two anti-wolf hunting referendums turn out.

A state elections board approved almost 300,000 petition signatures for the proposal today.

State lawmakers have 40 days to pass the measure. Otherwise, it will go on the statewide ballot in November.

Bob LaBrant is with the group that gathered the signatures. He says it’s clear the Legislature supports wolf hunting and will approve the measure.

“We think the Legislature, who’s already dealt with this subject twice only to be frustrated by referendums, will prevail in the end.”

The petition could still be challenged in court. Opponents of wolf hunting say it deals with too many issues unrelated to wolf hunting.

*This post has been updated.

Politics & Government
5:41 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Snyder: Pensioner approval of grand bargain sets Detroit up for faster recovery

One of the aims of the "grand bargain" is to protect artwork at the DIA from liquidation.
Credit Maia C/Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder is praising Detroit pensioners for approving the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan.

The so-called “grand bargain” is designed to prevent deep cuts to retirement benefits and protect city-owned artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Snyder says the vote this week makes it more likely the city will emerge from bankruptcy soon.

“I really appreciate retirees taking that positive vote because it was hard,” he told reporters Tuesday at an appearance in Detroit.

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Economy
10:22 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Henry Paulson tells Michigan to seek out Chinese investment

Paulson and Gov. Rick Snyder speak to reporters Monday at Ford Field in Detroit.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says foreign investment and immigration will be critical to turning around Michigan’s economy.

The former aide to President George W. Bush spoke before the Detroit Economic Club Monday afternoon with Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Make Michigan attractive for investment, period. OK? Make it attractive,” said Paulson.

He says Michigan should especially look to China to help boost the state’s economy. He says many Chinese businesses are looking to expand overseas, and Michigan needs to make it clear they are welcome.

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Politics & Government
10:57 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

Top state House Dem: Road solution not likely before November election

State House Minority Leader Tim Greimel says a vote on road funding likely won't come until the Legislature's lame duck session.
Credit WKAR-TV

The top Democrat in the state House says a road funding solution will probably have to wait until after the November election.

State House Minority Leader Tim Greimel says too many lawmakers are not willing to make the tough vote until they’re past their reelection bids. That’s because boosting infrastructure spending by more than a billion dollars a year would likely mean raising taxes to pay for it.

“I think there’s a very high likelihood that it doesn’t occur until lame duck, unfortunately,” said Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, on an appearance over the weekend on the Michigan Public Television program Off the Record.

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Health
6:48 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

State could become more transparent about infection rates at hospitals

The state is reviewing its policies on requiring hospitals to disclose their infection rates.
Credit click / morgueFile

The state’s top health official says Michigan could be more transparent about how many people get infections while at hospitals.

A recent MLive.com series suggests the state has withheld that information from the public. That includes infection rates at specific hospitals.

Jim Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), says that information is becoming more important for many patients.

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Politics & Government
5:44 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

State attorney general’s office unveils law guides for vets and military personnel

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette introduces new legal guides for veterans and military families Thursday in Detroit.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Michigan veterans and active duty military families now have new resources to help handle legal issues. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette released two new legal guides Thursday.

“Sometimes trying to help veterans in transition coming back from a deployment, it can get a bit complicated,” said Schuette.

“It could be anything from child custody to divorce to employment issues, what have you. And so what we’re trying to do is put out a practical guide to try to help veterans across Michigan.”

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Law
5:31 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

AG Schuette won’t give details on his opposition to medical marijuana bills

Credit bobdoran / Flickr

The state attorney general is not saying why he opposes bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan. Some top lawmakers are now urging Bill Schuette to detail his concerns.

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Law
5:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Future of medical marijuana bills uncertain after clearing state Senate panel

Credit user elioja / Flickr

Two bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan are one step closer to becoming law. A state Senate panel approved the legislation Wednesday.

But it is not clear what will happen to the bills now that they are going to the full Senate.

House Bill 4271 would let communities decide to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of cannabis.

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Politics & Government
5:43 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

State lawmakers to talk cash-strapped schools, marijuana, traffic fines

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

The state Legislature returns briefly from its summer break Wednesday for its only scheduled session day in July.

No full floor votes are expected in either the House or the Senate. But a number of legislative panels will meet to discuss a wide variety of issues.

The state Senate Government Operations Committee is expected to approve two high-profile medical marijuana bills. House Bill 4271 would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Michigan. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

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Politics & Government
5:09 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Michigan files tax liens against CIA

Credit Joy Weese Moll / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Treasury is going after the CIA for unpaid taxes. At least, that’s what newly uncovered documents would suggest.

Three tax liens were evidently filed by the Michigan Department of Treasury against the CIA between February 2012 and March of this year. They claim the agency did not pay state income taxes on behalf of an undisclosed number of CIA employees working in the state.

The documents were first reported by the Lansing State Journal.

Many questions still surround the tax assessments. Under state law, treasury officials cannot speak publicly about individual tax cases. The CIA would not talk on the record about the liens.

Health
8:07 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Medicaid expansion sign-ups hit one-year target in just four months

Credit user Laura4Smith / Flickr

In less than four months, Michigan has already hit its 2014 enrollment goal for the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

More than 322,000 low-income Michiganders now have government sponsored healthcare through the Healthy Michigan program.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) say the dramatic jump in enrollment will help boost the state’s economy.

“We’ve heard stories about people who are now addressing some really serious health problems that prevented them from working,” said Angela Minicuci, a spokesperson for MDCH.

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Environment & Science
7:45 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Study finds that an oil spill under Mackinac Straits would be “deathblow” to Northern Michigan

Concerns are growing over a pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
Credit James Marvin Phelps

New computer modeling from the University of Michigan shows the possible effects of an oil spill under the Straits of Mackinac. It shows oil would spread widely across Northern Michigan shorelines.

The National Wildlife Federation  says twin pipelines under the Straits are in poor condition and could rupture.

“To have an oil spill of the magnitude that’s potential … with the reach, the scope, and the travel that would occur from such a spill – it would be a deathblow for Great Lakes ecology and economy,” said Andy Buchsbaum, executive director the NWF’s Great Lakes Natural Resources Center.

“Everybody recognizes that that spill would be devastating,” he said. “And I think that this report actually puts a scientific point on how devastating it would be.”

The pipelines are operated by Enbridge, the company responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge says the pipelines are operating safely.

Below are videos of U of M's Straits of Mackinac contaminant release scenarios:

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

Another audit says Michigan has failed to protect vulnerable adults

The second audit in a month faults the state for failing to protect vulnerable adults.
Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is again taking heat for failing to protect vulnerable adults.

A state audit released Wednesday shows the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) has mismanaged its Adult Protective Services (APS) program since 2010. Among other things, it says DHS did not adequately train caseworkers and supervisors and failed to investigate complaints of abuse.

It’s the second report in less than a month that suggests the administration has mismanaged services for vulnerable adults.

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Education
10:22 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Michigan's superintendent predicts institutions will lose authority to create charter schools

A classroom.
Credit user LizMarie_AK / Wikimedia Commons

The statement comes a day after state Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan said he’s ready to use his authority to revoke that ability from charter school authorizers. That’s if they fail to meet new standards for transparency set by state education officials.

Flanagan says he met with authorizers in February about issues involving charters. He says he’s not convinced all of them will be able to meet the new, tougher standards.

“If I had to guess, just because of the candor at the February meeting, there’s probably some that we won’t extend their ability,” Flanagan said Tuesday. “But I don’t want to pre-judge that too much. That’s only hearing the anecdotal stuff.”

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Education
5:15 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Superintendents blast education budget

Credit Thetoad / Flickr

As Michigan schools begin their new budget year this week, some local superintendents are urging lawmakers to return from their summer break to boost education funding.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new education budget last week that boosts funding for all public schools by at least $50 per student. But Forest Hills Schools Superintendent Dan Behm says districts face new costs that wipe out that minimum increase.

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Health
6:52 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Background checks coming for home-aid workers; state can’t exclude all felons

Michigan cannot ban all felons from being caregivers in the state’s Medicaid in-home care program. That’s according to state officials who outlined an upcoming background check system on Monday.

People convicted of patient abuse or neglect, health-care fraud, or drug-related crimes will be barred from working with in-home Medicaid patients. But state officials say federal law prevents them from excluding people based on crimes that are not related to in-home care.

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Education
6:53 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Charter school advocate rips Detroit Free Press investigation

Dan Quisenberry, President of MAPSA, appearing on Off the Record with Tim Skubick.
Credit Off the Record

One of Michigan’s top charter school advocates is blasting the Detroit Free Press’ recent investigation into charters.

Reporter Jennifer Dixon and others uncovered incidents suggesting conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency, and mixed academic results in charters.

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Politics & Government
5:37 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Schauer says he’d push stricter regulations on charter schools as governor

Credit Facebook

Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he would put tougher regulations on charter schools if he’s elected governor. The Battle Creek Democrat says Gov. Rick Snyder has given bad charter operators a “free pass.”

“We need to write into law the oversight that was left out when Rick Snyder lifted the cap on the number of charter schools,” said Schauer. “It’s the Wild West right now, and these schools see kids with dollar signs on their foreheads.”

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Politics & Government
5:52 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Michigan economists warn against ending pensions for public employees

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Some economists say Michigan failed to consider the consequences of ending pension plans for public workers.

The state stopped offering pensions to new employees in 1997. Budget officials say that decision has cut Michigan’s long-term debt by about $5 billion.

A new report from Great Lakes Economic Consulting says the new 401(k) style plans may be cheaper. But it says it’s not fair to compare them to traditional pensions, which provide better protections for both workers and employers.

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