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
5:13 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Local governments: Tax Day study shows state not paying fair share

The Citizens Research Council says revenues to local governments in Michigan have dropped by about $1 billion in recent years, while state tax revenues have grown by about the same amount.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Local officials say not enough of the revenue Michigan takes in around Tax Day goes to cities, towns, and counties.

The nonpartisan Citizens Research Council released a study Tuesday that shows state revenue grew by more than $1 billion between 2009 and 2012. At the same time, local government revenue dropped by about the same amount.

The Michigan Municipal League (MML) says the disparity between local and state revenue is partly because the state has cut aid to Michigan communities.

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Law
5:15 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Gay couple trying to force state to recognize their marriage, “for our 13 kids”

Plaintiffs Clint McCormack (front), Bryan Reamer (back), and some of their 13 children.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

The ACLU of Michigan is suing the state to force it to recognize the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples who got married last month.

Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer are one of eight couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.

McCormack and Reamer have ten adopted sons and three foster daughters they are raising together in Farmington Hills. They started taking in children in 1998, and McCormack says they only recently decided to stop at 13 kids.

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Education
5:08 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Education groups uniting around bills to revamp teacher evaluations

Education advocates are near consensus on new teacher evaluation standards.
Credit Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

There could be movement soon on bipartisan legislation that would revamp teacher evaluations in Michigan. A number of groups that did not previously support the bills now say they’re on board.

Education advocates, bill sponsors, and lobbyists have been meeting this week to hammer out changes to the legislation.

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Law
5:39 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Bill to fight scrap metal theft signed into law

The bill prevents scrappers from getting instant cash for commonly-stolen items over $25. From left, Rep. Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City, Gov. Rick Snyder, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s chief of staff, Lisa Howze.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Michigan now has tougher laws on the books meant to crack down on scrap metal theft.

Under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday, people can no longer get instant cash when they sell commonly stolen items for $25 or more.

Supporters say mailing payments for those items will help law enforcement by creating a paper trail. They say communities all over the state have been literally ripped apart by illegal scrapping.

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

Feds approve center to encourage immigrant investment in Michigan

Michigan's new immigration center will provide visas for people who invest at least $1 million in the state and create at least ten jobs.
Credit lcars / Flickr

Michigan will be only the second state in the country to run a statewide center meant to encourage investment from immigrants.

The center will provide visas for people who invest at least $1 million in the state and create at least ten jobs. The required investment goes down to $500,000 if it is made in a rural community or one with high unemployment.

This is one piece of Gov. Rick Snyder’s strategy to attract more immigrants to Michigan. His administration expects the center to bring in at least $30 million and create 600 new jobs every year.

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Politics & Government
5:04 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Some Democrats skeptical about proposal to fix roads

A state House Republican plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure is drawing criticism from some prominent Democrats.

The proposal seeks to boost road funding by about $500 million a year. That’s well short of the $1-2 billion most estimates say is needed to adequately address the problem.

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Politics & Government
2:44 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Mark Schauer announces Lisa Brown as his running mate

Mark Schauer and Lisa Brown at today's announcement.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Mark Schauer has made it official. He has chosen Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown to be his running mate in this year’s race for governor.

Schauer, a former congressman from Battle Creek, is the likely Democratic challenger to Gov. Rick Snyder in November.

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Politics & Government
4:46 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

VA: Vets won’t risk losing benefits for treating PTSD with medical pot

Credit bobdoran / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says Michigan vets will not lose their federal benefits if they legally use medical marijuana. The VA’s statement is a response to the state’s decision to add post-traumatic stress disorder to its medical marijuana program.

Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Director Steve Arwood approved the change a couple weeks ago. But he urged veterans to consult with a VA representative first. He said it was unclear whether using medical marijuana would put their federal benefits at risk.

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Politics & Government
6:23 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

MSU could lose $500k for offering labor courses

makzhou Flickr

Michigan State University could risk losing $500,000 if it does not stop offering courses that allegedly promote unionization.

A state Senate panel approved a measure Thursday banning courses at public universities that promote or discourage organizing efforts. It’s a reaction to MSU’s recent decision to take over some programs from the National Labor College.

Republicans say those courses violate the proposed rule.

“I believe in academic freedom, and you’re going to have difficult subjects that you’re going to cover at any university,” said state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who chairs the panel that directs higher education funding in the House. 

“But this is a case where I think we’re almost encouraging labor disputes, and I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

The only Democrat that sits on the Senate panel that approved the penalty says it’s unusual for lawmakers to scrutinize university programs this intensely.

“Why just this program?” asked state Sen. Morris Hood III, D-Detroit. “And I would guess to believe that this is a hot topic item and it ruffles a lot of feathers.”

An MSU official says the university’s curriculum is balanced. He says it also offers classes that educate businesses on labor issues.

Pscholka says lawmakers will probably decide whether to move forward with the $500,000 penalty when they return from a three-week break in April.

Politics & Government
4:56 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Michigan lawmakers urge Congress to require a balanced federal budget

user cedarbenddrive Flickr

Michigan is joining at least 17 other states in calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On Wednesday, the state Senate gave final approval to a resolution formally asking Congress to call a constitutional convention to consider the amendment. It would take 34 total states to compel Congress to call a constitutional convention.

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Law
7:23 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Business equipment tax repeal bills sail through state House

Jake Neher MPRN

A widely unpopular tax on business equipment in Michigan is one step closer to being permanently repealed.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the industrial portion of Michigan’s Personal Property Tax (PPT) is a job killer and keeps companies from investing in new equipment.

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Law
9:55 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

PTSD patients now able to get medical marijuana cards in Michigan

bobdoran Flickr

Michiganders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder can now get a card to use medical marijuana.

The state’s director of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Steve Arwood, gave final approval to add PTSD to the state’s medical marijuana program about a week after it was recommended by a state review panel.

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Law
4:13 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Lawmakers revive talks about scrap metal theft

mikethefifth Flickr

There’s a new push in Lansing to pass legislation meant to fight scrap metal theft in Michigan. Votes in the House and Senate could come as soon as this week.

Supporters of House Bills 4593 and 4595 say the state must require a paper trail whenever someone sells commonly stolen items to a scrap yard.

State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, says there has been disagreement over how best to do that. But she says she is confident lawmakers will reach a deal soon.

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Law
6:03 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Michiganders buying insurance on their own cannot get abortion coverage

user cedarbenddrive Flickr

A controversial law banning elective abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans is now in effect. It requires people who want abortion coverage to buy it as a separate, optional insurance policy.

The initiated law was championed by Right to Life of Michigan and passed by the state Legislature late last year.

Since then, seven insurance companies have decided to offer separate, optional abortion policies, or “riders,” for employers to offer their workers. Those plans cost between a penny and 32 cents extra every month for each employee.

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Law
5:19 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

State could soon pop the cap off microbreweries – or at least lift it

alvimann morguefile

Michigan craft breweries are cheering the state Legislature for passing bills to ease some state regulations.

The state House sent the bill package to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk Thursday.

One bill would double the amount of beer Michigan microbreweries could produce every year.  

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Politics & Government
12:05 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Bill to pull the plug on telephone landlines clears Michigan Legislature

Critics of the bill worry it could leave people in some areas of the state without affordable and reliable phone service.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

It could soon be easier for phone companies to end traditional landline service in Michigan.

The state Senate gave final legislative approval to the measure Thursday. Senate Bill 636, which was championed by AT&T, now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.

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Politics & Government
5:52 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Governor meets with legislative leaders to hammer out road fix, Medicaid deal

Jake Neher/ MPRN

State lawmakers are about to dive into the process of crafting a budget for next fiscal year. But they have to fix some problems with the current year’s budget first.

One of the biggest concerns is a hole in the state’s Medicaid budget of more than $100 million. Everyone agrees that shortfall needs to be addressed. But the state House and Senate have not been able to agree on how to fix it or where that money should come from.

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Law
8:00 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Support for marijuana dispensaries, “edibles” bills seems to grow in state Senate

Supporters of the legislation say reviving and regulating dispensaries will ensure patients have safe and consistent access to treatment.
User Eljoja Flickr

The debate over reviving medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan starts up again in Lansing this week.

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Law
5:25 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

State board says PTSD patients should be able to use medical marijuana

A state board says OK to medical marijuana for PTSD, but rejects it for bipolar disorder and insomnia.
User Eljoja Flickr

Dakota Serna served in the Marines during the Iraq War. He says memories of seeing friends and children killed left him suicidal after he came home. Serna says the only thing that has helped him get his life back on track is using marijuana.  

But that puts him on the wrong side of the law as it is currently written.

“Somebody on paper can say that I’m a criminal,” said Serna. “Somebody can come to my house and try to put me in handcuffs. But I’m not a criminal.”

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Law
5:21 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

State Senate votes to ban e-cigarette sales to minors

Credit Lauri Rantala / Wikimedia Commons

It could soon be illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to children in Michigan. The state Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday meant to keep the smokeless devices out of the hands of minors.

So-called “e-cigarettes” deliver a nicotine-laced vapor, but don’t contain tobacco. That means the state cannot currently regulate them along with regular cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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