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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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.
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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.

The State Board of Education (SBE) has selected a new state superintendent of schools. Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston will take over the Michigan Department of Education in July. That’s when current state Superintendent Mike Flanagan will retire.

Whiston says he’s had a lot of success in Dearborn – and hopes to achieve similar goals statewide.

“We’ve raised student achievement, raised graduation rates, our budget’s in line,” he said after a final interview with the SBE Wednesday.

DMedina / morgueFile

Some Michigan nurses would be able to prescribe drugs without a doctor’s consent. That’s under a bill up for a state Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 68 would allow nurses with additional training to be licensed to treat, diagnose, and prescribe drugs to patients. Advanced practice registered nurses would include certified nurse midwives, certified nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialist-certifieds. 

Gov. Snyder presented his goals for energy policy in Michigan Friday at an electrician training facility in Warren.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Snyder's goal of boosting renewable energy to between 30% and 40% in the next decade includes increased energy efficiency to get to those numbers. The governor says increased efficiency should play a central role in Michigan’s energy future.

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Gov. Rick Snyder has taken direct control over the state office tasked with monitoring Michigan’s worst performing schools.

The elected state Board of Education previously had control over the state School Reform Office. Snyder signed an executive order on Thursday that moves the reform office to his budget office.

Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

A group of activists says 2016 is the year to legalize marijuana in Michigan.

The group says it will launch a petition drive this year. It’s still finalizing the proposal’s language – but organizers say it will allow people to grow up to 12 marijuana plants each.

Marijuana plant.
bobdoran / Flickr

The state Senate has passed a bill that would allow landlords to ban tenants from smoking or growing medical marijuana in their rental units. Senate Bill 72 passed on a 34-3 vote with bipartisan support.

The legislation required a three-quarters majority vote because it would change Michigan’s voter-approved Medical Marijuana Act.

gophouse.com

Gov. Rick Snyder says there’s no backup plan to boost road funding if voters reject a sales tax increase in May.

Snyder urged listeners to vote “yes” on the measure during an appearance on Michigan Public Radio’s statewide call-in program “Michigan Calling.”

Bruce Bortin / Flickr

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.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

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.

Holland BPW

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.

Jack Amick / Flickr

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
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

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.

michigan.gov

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.
Graham Davis / flickr

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.

Handguns.
user Ben Re / Flickr

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.

Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr

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.

WKAR-TV

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.

user Joshuashearn / wikimedia commons

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.

Prensa 420 / Flickr

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.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

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.

Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS

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.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

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.

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.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

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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