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
8:26 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

MDP chair talks Court of Claims, governor's race, and 'issue ad' transparancy

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

The chair of the Michigan Democratic Party maintains a recent overhaul of the state’s Court of Claims amounts to “court rigging” by the GOP. That’s despite the fact that an equal number of Republican and Democratic judicial appointments were recently made to the court.

MDP Chair Lon Johnson appeared this weekend on the Michigan Public Television program "Off the Record."

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Business
8:49 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Plan to expand craft brewing in Michigan clears state House

Idandersen Morgue File

Michigan microbreweries would be able to produce twice as much beer every year under legislation that cleared the state House Thursday. The bills would also allow more brew pubs and tasting rooms.

State Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-Mount Pleasant) sponsored one of the bills. He says current limits on brewers are “arbitrary” and out-of-date.

“I think we can all really be proud of the microbrewery industry we have in Michigan,” said Cotter. “And this will allow them to continue to grow, get the government out of the way.”

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Law
8:44 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

State lawmakers look to crack down on urban blight

AcrylicArtist Morgue File

Many property owners who break anti-blight laws would face tougher penalties under bills approved Thursday in the state House. Under the legislation, the worst offenders could spend up to a year behind bars.

State Rep. Amanda Price (R-Park Township) says a number of Michigan cities have good anti-blight laws on the books. But she says the consequences for breaking those laws aren’t tough enough to deter people.         

“So it puts the teeth into what those cities are trying to do in eliminating blight,” said Price.

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Law
7:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Lawmakers begin review of alleged right to work violations

Lawmakers in Lansing may have to cut revenue sharing with local governments to fill the $1.8 billion budget hole.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Republican state lawmakers say they want to get to the bottom of alleged violations of Michigan’s new right to work law.

A newly-formed state Senate committee Wednesday heard testimony from three teachers who are part of a lawsuit against the Michigan Education Association (MEA). They say the union bullied and threatened them when they tried to leave.

Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) chairs the Senate Compliance and Accountability Committee. He says the MEA also failed to alert teachers about how and when they could leave the union.

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Law
5:48 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Plan to sell medical marijuana at pharmacies clears state Senate

Credit USFWS

Pharmacies would be able to sell medical marijuana in Michigan under a measure approved by the state Senate today. But there’s no guarantee that will happen – even if it’s signed into law.

The legislation would only be implemented if the federal government decides to regulate marijuana as a prescription drug. And there’s no clear indication that’s in the cards.

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Politics & Government
10:52 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

State House panel OKs bill making public info requests easier, cheaper

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

State lawmakers are moving forward with a bill they hope would make public information requests easier and cheaper.

A state House panel unanimously approved House Bill 4001 Tuesday. It would put limits on how much government offices could charge for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The measure would also increase penalties for public agencies that don’t respond to requests in a timely manner.

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Sports
10:47 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Hoping to kill a wolf during the upcoming hunt? Your chances are not good

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

People planning to take part in Michigan’s historic wolf hunt this year are likely to come home empty-handed.

State wildlife officials say they designed the hunt expecting only around 4% of hunters to kill a wolf.

“If we had any other game species, or deer hunting, or rabbit hunting, or squirrel hunting where you’d have 4% success rates, the hunters would be quite upset with us,” said Brian Roell, a wildlife biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“So I think some folks are probably overestimating their ability to harvest a wolf.”

Environment & Science
9:39 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Michigan DNR officials counter claims that bad info led to wolf hunt

A Gray Wolf
metassus / Flickr

Michigan wildlife officials are dismissing claims that bad information led to the state’s upcoming wolf hunt.

Opponents of the hunt are asking Governor Rick Snyder to suspend it based on a recent MLive report.   It raised questions about a number of alleged wolf encounters with humans, pets, and livestock in the U.P.

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Law
5:51 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Bridge card ban at liquor store, casino, strip club ATMs moves ahead

Indiana Public Media Flickr

Michigan is one step closer to banning bridge card holders from using ATMs inside liquor stores, casinos, and strip clubs.

The state House passed the legislation Thursday with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“The use of the bridge card should be used as it is for the intent originally, making sure that families and children can have food on their table and providing for the necessities of life,” said bill sponsor Rep. Dale Zorn (R-Ida).

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Politics & Government
3:06 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

New law means tax break for people who trade in vehicles

Thomas Hawk Flickr

Starting next month, Michiganders who trade in old cars, boats, and RVs for new ones will get a tax cut. Gov. Rick Snyder signed bills today that would deduct the trade-in value of old vehicles from the taxable value of the new ones. Right now, people have to pay sales tax on the full price of the vehicle they’re buying. That’s regardless of whether they’re trading in an old one.

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Politics & Government
6:38 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Early childhood advocates say recent state investment in preschool not enough

Capital Area Community Services, Inc. has added over 275 children to its preschool program this year because of the state’s $65 million expansion of Great Start.
Jake Neher MPRN

Advocates for early childhood education say recent policy changes in Lansing are undermining the state’s attempts to help Michigan kids.

This year’s state budget increases spending on preschool for low-income families by $65 million a year. But advocates say that alone does not guarantee better results for children.

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Education
9:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Should state flunk 3rd graders who can't read?

The Real Estreya Flickr

A state House panel could vote this week on a bill that would require schools to hold back 3rd graders who do not pass a state reading test.

Supporters of House Bill 5111 cite what’s known as “social promotion” – or allowing students to move to the next grade regardless of whether they have learned all the necessary material. They say students learn to read from grades one-through-three. After that, they’re reading to learn.  

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Education
8:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Bill calls for letter grades for schools

kconnors Morgue File

Legislation that would assign letter grades to schools based on student performance could move forward this week in Lansing.

The Michigan Department of Education recently released its new school accountability system, which uses color-codes to rate schools. But many state lawmakers say that system is too confusing for most parents and educators.

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Law
8:42 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Lawmakers look to crack down on scrap metal theft

ChrisGoldNY Flickr

Legislation to crack down on scrap metal theft in Michigan has cleared the state House.

Among other things, the legislation would require scrap dealers to wait three days before paying for certain items that are commonly stolen, such as copper wire and air conditioners. It would also require more paper work for scrap metal sales.

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Politics & Government
6:41 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Bill calls for stricter rules for school emergency drills

Cal OES Flickr

Michigan schools would have to be more transparent about how they conduct emergency safety drills under a bill approved Wednesday in the state House.

House Bill 4713 would require schools to post on their websites when and how they do things like fire, tornado, and lock-down drills.

“So rather than fill out a two page report that sits in a desk drawer that nobody ever sees, just post it on the website for five days, and mom and dad and grandma and grandpa know that the drills are being conducted,” said bill sponsor Rep. Joe Graves (R-Argentine Township).

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Politics & Government
8:45 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Bills could help microbreweries expand in Michigan

Tim Pearce, Los Gatos Flickr

Bills meant to expand craft brewing in Michigan are one step closer to becoming law.

A state House panel unanimously approved the legislation Tuesday. Among other things, it would double the amount of beer microbreweries could produce every year.

“I think it’s a big step for craft brewing,” said House Regulatory Reform Committee Chair Hugh Crawford (R-Novi) after the vote. “It’s going to allow some to expand, some to do some other things that they’ve needed to do, which is going to provide jobs. So it’s going to be very beneficial to craft brewers.”

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Politics & Government
8:40 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Fight in Lansing over Common Core is done, for now

erwinem Flickr

State lawmakers have agreed to move forward with a new set of school standards in Michigan.

The state House on Tuesday gave final approval to a resolution which would pay for putting the Common Core State Standards in place.

Earlier this year, the Legislature barred the Michigan Department of Education from spending money to implement the standards while lawmakers debated the merits of Common Core. A state House panel heard more than 17 hours of testimony on the issue over the summer.

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Politics & Government
10:22 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

State lawmakers look to crack down on trophy buck poachers

taliesen Morgue File

Michiganders who illegally hunt trophy bucks would have to pay higher penalties under legislation in Lansing.

A state House panel is expected to take up Senate Bills 171 and 172 Tuesday.

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Politics & Government
6:01 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Bill to end automatic life sentences for juveniles does not include re-sentencing

larryfarr Morgue File

People serving mandatory life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles would not get a chance at re-sentencing, under a bill approved today by the state Senate.

It’s been more than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled automatic life sentences without parole for minors cruel and unusual. This legislation would bring the state in compliance with that decision.

But state Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) says the state should hold re-sentencing hearings for those offenders. He says it’s important for judges to consider the details of each case.

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Education
4:49 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

State Senate OKs funding for Common Core

TheToad Flickr

The state Legislature is a step closer to reinstating funding for a new set of school standards.  Earlier this year, lawmakers barred Michigan education officials from spending money to implement the Common Core State Standards.

Today, the state Senate passed a resolution that would continue the funding under certain conditions.

“School districts all around the state have implemented Common Core or have been in the implementation stages … of implementing something that was agreed to and supported by the Board of Education, I think, in 2010,” said state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe). “So it’s been around for three years.”

Among other things, the resolution says the standards cannot dictate curriculum to local schools.

“That’s something, I believe, needs to be addressed in the longer-term in a more forceful action by the Legislature, along with the governor, to ensure that Michigan is in charge of its own destiny,” said state Sen. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), one of the opponents of Common Core.

The resolution would allow state education officials to continue support for local schools that are already implementing Common Core.

The state House could give the measure final approval as early as next week. Superintendent Mike Flanagan has already told education officials to resume work on Common Core.

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