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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Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate has approved campaign finance legislation that would write the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling into state law.

The court ruled that the First Amendment allows unrestricted independent political spending by outside groups.

Democrats say the bill not only codifies “Citizens United” – it expands it.

A hearing on bills to create legal protections for medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan sparked some drama on Tuesday.

Many patients now oppose the legislation, in part because it creates new taxes on medical marijuana sales.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Existing data centers in Michigan are concerned about bills meant to attract a massive data farm to Grand Rapids. Lawmakers are considering tax breaks for all data centers. But existing centers say they’re still worried the bills will give Nevada-based company Switch an unfair advantage.

Yan Ness is the CEO of Online Tech in Ann Arbor. "I would like to make sure that all of those investments are at a level playing field when it comes to taxes,” Ness said.

Existing data centers are calling for guarantees in the legislation that all data centers will be treated equally.

drtel / Creative Commons

 The state Senate has voted to give big tax breaks to data centers in an effort to lure a server farm to west Michigan and lay the groundwork for establishing the industry in the state.

The Las Vegas-based company Switch says the state must adopt the tax breaks before the end of the year or it will locate somewhere else. Switch is eyeing a massive data center project near Grand Rapids.

kakisky / morgueFile

Local clerks and activists panned an effort to end straight-ticket voting in Michigan at a state House hearing on Thursday.

Voters would no longer be able to fill in one bubble to vote for every candidate representing a single political party on the ballot.

Clerks say the change would make lines and wait times longer on Election Day.

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers could make big changes to voting laws before the end of the year.

A state House panel on Wednesday approved no-reason absentee voting in Michigan. People would no longer need to meet criteria to mail in their ballots before Election Day.

flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State lawmakers began hearings Tuesday on bills meant to help 17 year olds avoid serving time in adult prisons.

17 year olds would no longer be automatically treated as adults in Michigan’s court system under the legislation. Supporters say the prison system is not equipped to rehabilitate young people.

Jennifer Pilette served for 16 years as a referee on the juvenile court bench in Wayne County.

University of Michigan Health System

Michigan veterans would be eligible for grants to help them earn a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math under a new bipartisan bill in the state House.

If the bill becomes law, eligible veterans could receive up to $5,000 a year toward a STEM degree at a public university or community college in Michigan.

Amit Gupta / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

One Republican state senator wants some criminal convictions to be automatically scrubbed from public records.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says he plans to introduce the legislation soon after lawmakers return from their three-week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

Michael Vadon / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich brought his presidential campaign to southeast Michigan on Monday.

The Republican presidential hopeful toured a business incubator in Sterling Heights and spoke with a handful of supporters. He took some jabs at Donald Trump’s policy positions while speaking with reporters.

KeterMagick / morgueFile

Updated at 10:33 am

A Democratic state Senator hopes to repeal Michigan’s “stand-your-ground” law.

Under that law, a person can use deadly force against someone else with no requirement to retreat. That’s as long as the person isn’t engaged in a crime, is somewhere they’re legally allowed to be, and feels deadly force is the only way to defend themselves.

UNHCR / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Activists have delivered thousands of signatures to Gov. Rick Snyder urging him to welcome more Syrian refugees. Snyder says he’s “pausing” his efforts to attract additional Syrian refugees to Michigan after last week’s attacks in Paris.

Julie Quiroz of Ann Arbor started an online petition asking the governor to reconsider. She says she didn’t expect it to get so much attention.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Some local school officials in Michigan would be OK with tapping the state’s School Aid Fund to help Detroit Public Schools pay down debt. That’s if they get some assurances.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal would tap the state’s School Aid Fund to pay for the measure. School leaders outside Detroit have balked at that idea – saying the plan shouldn’t come at the expense of every other Michigan student.

flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Local education officials say it shouldn’t be up to them to decide whether to allow guns in schools.

Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder told WJIM host Steve Gruber that he could support legislation to allow concealed weapons in schools if it left the decision up to local districts. He says he’d veto bills currently being debated in the state Legislature because they don’t give local schools a choice.

flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Gov. Rick Snyder would veto legislation allowing concealed weapons in schools if it doesn’t give districts a choice.

Bills sitting on the state Senate floor would allow people to carry concealed weapons in gun-free zones. But Senate Bills 442 and 561 would also ban them from openly carrying in those areas, which is currently allowed in schools.

Snyder vetoed similar legislation in 2012.

"I vetoed it once. I’d veto it again,” the governor told WJIM Radio host Steve Gruber on Friday.

wikipedia

Democrats in the state Legislature want to establish water as a “human right” under state law. It’s part of a package of bills meant to address tap water contamination and mass water shutoffs in cities like Flint and Detroit.

“What we’re seeing is a complete disregard for human life, human safety, and the future of our children,” said Melissa Mays, a Flint resident who says her entire family has health problems because of contaminated water.

Jake Neher / MPRN

State lawmakers are taking a three-week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

  

And they’ll have a lot of work waiting for them when they return to Lansing.

Lars Plougmann

Michigan would end straight-ticket voting under a bill that cleared the state Senate on Tuesday.

Voters would no longer be able to fill in one dot to vote for all candidates representing one political party on a ballot.

Tulane Public Relations / Creative Commons

Michigan school districts will implement new science standards over the next seven years.

The State Board of Education overwhelmingly adopted the new standards on Tuesday.

(courtesy of KQED)

Schools districts across Michigan will have to adhere to new standards for evaluating teachers and administrators. Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill on Thursday meant to improve teacher evaluation practices across the state.

Supporters of Senate Bill 103 say it will make sure bad teachers are held accountable. But they say it will also protect good teachers.

Jake Neher / MPRN

State lawmakers say they can now focus on some major policy proposals now that they’ve sent a road funding plan to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

The Legislature is already diving into an overhaul of Michigan’s energy policies.

Michigan roads
user nirbhao / Flickr

After years of gridlock, state lawmakers have sent Governor Rick Snyder legislation to boost road funding.

 The legislation would increase the state’s gas tax by seven cents a gallon and boost vehicle registration fees by twenty percent starting in 2017. It raises taxes by 600 million dollars starting in 2017. It also eventually shifts 600 million dollars from other areas of the state budget. 

Repair trucks on a Michigan road.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

A $1.2 billion road funding plan has cleared the state Senate.

The new "compromise" plan takes $600 million from existing revenues to the state's General Fund, $400 million from a seven-cent-per-gallon increase in the state's gas tax, and $200 million from an increase in vehicle registration fees.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Top lawmakers hope to reach a compromise this week on road funding bills.

The state House recently approved a $1.2 billion plan that in equal parts raises taxes and shifts money from other areas of the budget.

Lawmakers are not happy about the time it took for state education officials to release the latest round of standardized test results.

Students struggled in all grades and subjects on the new M-STEP test which replaced the MEAP.

That was expected. But lawmakers didn’t expect it to take six months to get that data.

marazmova / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new State Police crime lab policy allows prosecutors to charge cannabis users with felonies they didn’t commit. That’s according to medical marijuana activists, who uncovered the policy through a public information request and provided the documents to the Michigan Public Radio Network.

KellyP42 / morgueFile

The stalemate over road funding continues in the Michigan Legislature.

The state Senate was expected to pass a road funding plan on Tuesday that had already been approved by the state House. But it adjourned after about eight hours of talks without a vote.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan students struggled with the state’s new standardized test.

The Michigan Department of Education on Tuesday released the first results from Michigan’s new M-STEP test which replaced the MEAP.

Graham Holliday / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state government faces 2.5 million cyber-attacks every day.

Snyder spoke at the opening of an international cyber security summit in Detroit on Monday.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state Senate could vote Tuesday on a proposal to boost road funding.

Ahead of that vote, Gov. Rick Snyder appears to be warming to the plan which would make big cuts to the state budget.

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