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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The state Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday on a road funding proposal that includes a possible income tax rollback.

A state Senate panel approved a plan Tuesday afternoon that could generate about $1.5 billion annually for roads, in part by raising Michigan’s gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years. It would also shift about $700 million in existing state funds to roads.

Jake Neher / Michigan Public Radio Network

A campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan started collecting signatures on Thursday at a rally in front of the state Capitol.

Organizers with the group MILegalize admit it will be a challenge to raise the money needed to collect enough signatures. But they’re optimistic.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Republicans in the state Senate have put a damper on a legislative effort to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.

A Republican-sponsored bill in the state House seems to have wide bipartisan support. But if the House approves the bill, it appears it won’t go any farther.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

Michigan’s top education official says the state should help Detroit Public Schools pay down its massive debt.

The governor and state lawmakers are discussing ways to turn around the district - which is almost $500 million in debt. The district spends $53 million dollars a year on debt service.


Outgoing state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says paying off the district’s debt would free up tens of thousands of dollars for every classroom in Detroit.

User mconnors / MorgueFile

Michigan’s film incentives could soon end with the stroke of Gov. Rick Snyder’s pen.

The state House and Senate approved a bill to phase out the film credits on the last day before lawmakers go on an intermittent schedule for the summer.

Film rolls.
Luca Nonato / Flickr

Michigan's film incentives would be completely phased out under a bill approved this morning by the state Senate.

The vote comes a day after Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new state budget that cut funding for the film credits in half compared to the budget passed last year.

The legislation now goes to the state House, which could send the bill to the governor's desk later today.

*We'll have more on this soon.

Thetoad / Flickr

State lawmakers have sent Gov. Rick Snyder a bill that would ban local minimum wage and benefit laws. The bill does not apply to ordinances adopted before this year.

Republican supporters of the legislation say having a patchwork of different wage laws across the state makes Michigan less attractive to businesses.

Democrats and some Republicans have criticized the bill. They say it's an attack on local control.

Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A plan to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan is gaining significant support from Republicans.

Unlike Michigan, most states no longer set conditions for voting absentee.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Local minimum wage and benefit ordinances in place before this year would no longer be preempted by a controversial bill in the state Legislature.

The state House changed House Bill 4052 so that it would only apply to local ordinances adopted after January 1, 2015. It would still stop communities from passing new laws setting local minimum wages and benefits.

Shayan Sanyal / Flickr

Legislation to compensate people who are wrongly imprisoned in Michigan is moving forward at the state Capitol.

A state House committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to give people $60,000 for every year they are imprisoned plus damages.

The Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Democrats and Republicans in the state House want to end the state’s “zero tolerance” policies in schools.

Federal law requires schools to expel students for bringing guns to school. House Bill 4697 would end state policies forcing schools to expel or suspend students for things like bringing alcohol to school or fighting.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

A bill that would end local wage and benefit laws has cleared the state Senate.

The legislation would stop communities from setting their own living wage and workplace rules – among other things.

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

A couple of groups hoping to legalize marijuana in 2016 have a green light to move forward.

A state elections board signed off on each group’s petition language Thursday. They can now begin collecting signatures.

Elizabeth / Creative Commons

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a new law tying welfare benefits to school attendance.

For more than two years, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services policy has ended cash assistance for families with children who persistently miss school. This cements that policy in state law.

jimmiehomeschoolmom / flickr

The incoming state superintendent says he wants to cut down on the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests.

Brian Whiston answered questions from lawmakers on Wednesday for the first time. He says the state may need to move away from the brand new M-STEP exam.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House has approved a Republican plan to boost road funding by about $1 billion a year. It would shift most of the money from existing funds in the state budget.

Democrats criticized the plan. They say it relies too heavily on projected economic growth in coming years. And they strongly oppose provisions that would increase fees for alternative fuel vehicles and eliminate a tax credit for the working poor.

All Eminov / Flickr http://ow.ly/O6goi

Michigan would allow people to drink alcohol on so-called “pedal pubs” under bills making their way through the Legislature.

A state House panel on Tuesday approved regulating the four-wheel pedal-powered vehicles, which allow people to drink alcohol while cycling between destinations.

Jake Neher / MPRN

For the first time, Michigan will spend general fund dollars to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

State lawmakers recently approved a budget with $500,000 dollars in grant money that programs can apply for.

matthew_hull / morgueFile

A strain of bird flu that has devastated poultry farms across the Midwest has reached Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed the first cases of highly pathogenic avian flu H5N2 in the state. They were found in wild geese in Macomb County.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A plan to boost road funding by about $1 billion a year could clear the state House this week.

House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, is pushing a plan that would rely mostly on shifting existing funds in the state budget and expected revenue increases in the coming years.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At least one prominent Republican at the state Capitol believes Detroit Public Schools (DPS) is likely to be dissolved.

State lawmakers are debating ways to help turn around public schools in Detroit. Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to sell them on a plan to turn around the district. It includes shifting money from districts across the state to help DPS pay off debt.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan would give police less freedom to seize and sell property under bills making their way through the state Legislature.

The state House approved the bills on Thursday with wide bipartisan support.

Under the legislation, police would have to report more information about the property they seize through Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture laws.

School Bus
Nicolae Gerasim / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will decide whether to sign a bill tying welfare payments to school attendance.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) already cuts off payments to families with kids who miss a lot of school. The state House has sent the governor a bill that would cement that policy in state law.

Shayan Sanyal / Flickr

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.