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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Education
5:11 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Snyder and teachers unions agree on at least one thing: Year-round schooling

Credit jdurham / mourgeFile

  Teachers unions say they liked at least one thing Governor Rick Snyder said during his State of the State address Thursday night. The governor called for state incentives to encourage school districts to go year-round.

Under the plan, schools that volunteer would still have the same number of vacation days. They would just be spread out more throughout the year.

“Let’s try it!” said American Federation of Teachers of Michigan President David Hecker.

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Education
8:56 am
Thu January 16, 2014

State lawmakers grill education officials on new standardized tests

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
Alberto G. Creative Commons

Debate is underway in Lansing over which standardized test will replace the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP). State lawmakers held their first hearing on the subject Wednesday afternoon.

At the meeting, state education officials defended their decision to endorse a computer-based test known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment. They took exception to lawmakers who questioned whether the test was chosen carefully and objectively.

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Politics & Government
8:49 am
Thu January 9, 2014

State lawmakers back in action, talking tax cuts and hiring parolees

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

The state Legislature has kicked off its 2014 session.

One of the first pieces of legislation introduced in 2014 would encourage Michigan employers to hire more parolees. More than 70% of people recently released from prison are unemployed and that number has been rising steadily over the past decade.

“By getting them employed, we stand a much better chance of having them stay out of prison and rebuild their lives and return to society and produce,” said state Rep. Joe Haveman (R-Holland).

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Politics & Government
9:00 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Plan to cut Michigan’s income tax in the works

Jake Neher MPRN

Republican state lawmakers hope to introduce legislation this month that would cut Michigan’s income tax rate. The plan would take the rate from 4.25% down to 3.9%.

Supporters of the idea say it would save Michigan taxpayers somewhere around $200 million a year. And with a budget surplus estimated at more than $1 billion over the next couple of years, they say the state can afford an election-year tax cut.

Some Republicans say they hope to draw down the income tax even lower than 3.9% if the state’s finances continue to improve. 

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Transportation
2:37 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Speed limit increase could be on Legislature’s agenda in 2014

Credit crazyoctopus / flickr

The debate over increasing speed limits across the state is likely to heat up again when state lawmakers return to Lansing next week.

Local governments would be required to set speed limits based on Michigan State Police (MSP) recommendations. Supporters say the goal is to reduce speed traps and improve traffic conditions.

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Health
3:45 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Michigan pharmacies will be able to sell medical marijuana if feds reschedule as drug

Credit Chuck Coker / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill into law that clears the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. But that’s only if the federal government reclassifies cannabis as a legal prescription drug.

There’s no clear sign that will happen any time soon.

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Law
5:10 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Governor signs identity theft 'skimmers' and indefinite detention bills

Flickr

Devices that can be used to steal someone’s personal information when they use a credit card are now illegal in Michigan. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Thursday banning the sale, purchase, or use of so-called “skimmer” devices.

Proponents of the measure say skimmers can be installed relatively easily on ATMs and other credit card readers. Under the new law, offenders will face felony charges that could come with up to five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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Politics & Government
5:06 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Audit: Michigan department has failed to make sure veterans get maximum benefits

John M. Cropper Flickr

Michigan has done a poor job over the last decade making sure veterans collect all the benefits they’re entitled to. That’s according to a new report from the state Auditor General’s office.

The audit shows the Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs (DMVA) has failed to adequately track the performance and spending of veterans’ agencies across the state. That includes organization such as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion.  

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Politics & Government
6:13 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

State worker unions rally on eve of contract decision

Dozens of public employee union members protest Tuesday outside Governor Rick Snyder’s office, across from the state Capitol in Lansing.
Jake Neher/ MPRN

Thousands of state employees could see their health benefits reduced Wednesday. That’s if a state board votes to approve a new contract.

Public employee unions couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the state this year, so the Michigan Civil Service Commission will vote on a compromise plan drawn up by an independent panel. 

Unions say it includes too many concessions while, at the same time, state officials are expecting a budget surplus.

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Law
5:04 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Trio of medical marijuana bills clear state House

A medical marijuana clinic owner offered pot to customers who also registered to vote
User Eljoja Flickr

Medical marijuana patients in Michigan would have more ways to legally obtain and consume cannabis under three bills that cleared the state House today. One bill would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate again in Michigan.

State Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) introduced the legislation. He says it’s critical for many patients to have safe access to marijuana right away.

“If either you grow your own or a caregiver grows your own, it takes four to six months before it’s medicine,” said Callton. “Many of these people – especially if they’re cancer patients that are trying to maintain appetite – many of them may be dead by the time their medicine is ready.”

The House also approved a bill that would let patients use edible or topical forms of medical marijuana, and another that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan.

All three bills now go to the state Senate.

Politics & Government
8:15 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Medical pot activists cheer as dispensaries, 'medibles' bills head to full House

The DEA announced that marijuana will continue to classified as a Class I drug stating the drug has "has no accepted medical use in the United States."
user eljoja Flickr

Legislation that would give medical marijuana patients more ways to obtain and use cannabis is one step closer to becoming law. A state House panel unanimously approved House Bills 4271 and 5104 Tuesday.

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Politics & Government
8:11 am
Wed December 11, 2013

State officials set to expand 'turnaround district' for struggling schools

Mumford High School, one of the 15 EAA schools in Detroit.
detroitk12.org

It appears a controversial state-run authority that oversees struggling schools in Michigan will be expanded.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announced Tuesday that he plans to add up to nine schools to the Education Achievement Authority.

Meanwhile, the state Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on legislation that would increase the EAA’s ability to expand statewide. Republicans in the Senate have been working through some concerns they have about expanding the district.

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Politics & Government
5:14 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

High-profile medical marijuana bills could clear state House panel Tuesday

Marijuana plants.
A7nubis Creative Commons

Medical marijuana advocates are confident a state House panel will approve a pair of bills Tuesday that would significantly change the way patients can obtain and use cannabis.

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Politics & Government
8:40 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

“Issue ad” and campaign finance legislation could clear state Legislature before 2014

State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says the House is close to a vote on legislation that would double the amount of money people can give to political campaigns.

The bill would also block a proposal that would require groups who pay for so-called “issue ads” to disclose their donors.

“I believe that we need to protect First Amendment rights, we need to protect free speech, and we need to have disclaimers on political ads,” said Bolger. “So, I expect us to wrap that up. My hope is that we wrap that up next week.”

Bolger says he supports requiring “disclaimers” that say which group paid for an issue ad, but not the names of the group’s donors.

Critics of the legislation say it would only benefit large campaign spenders, and that it threatens transparency.

Politics & Government
8:38 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

House delays votes on holding back 3rd graders and letter grades for schools

Two high-profile public education bills seem to have stalled in the state Legislature. House Bill 5111 would require schools to hold back third graders who cannot read. House Bill 5112 would assign letter grades to all public schools based on student performance.

The state House was expected to vote on both bills Thursday. But House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says lawmakers need more time to debate them.

“There are a lot of questions and a lot of concern that is based on old information,” said Bolger, who supports the bill. “And so we’re going to take some time to work through those questions and concerns, continue to listen to educators, and have our members work with their colleagues across the aisle.”

The state Legislature is expected to meet for one more week before the end of the year. 

Law
8:24 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

State Senate approves bill making it easier to end landline phone service

C Simmons Flickr

A bill that would make it easier for phone companies to end traditional landline service in Michigan has cleared the state Senate.

AARP of Michigan and other groups worry the measure threatens affordable and reliable phone service. They say it could put some Michiganders at risk if they lose emergency medical alert systems available with traditional landlines.

But Senate Bill 636 still got overwhelming bipartisan support in the state Senate.

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Politics & Government
8:34 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Lawmakers look to tackle big issues in the next two weeks

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state Legislature is back in session after a two week break. Republican leaders have a long list of issues they want to address before they wrap up their work in 2013.

One of those issues was also a top priority this time last year. Many lawmakers want to expand a state-run school district meant to turn around struggling schools. Right now, the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) oversees 15 schools in Detroit. Governor Rick Snyder wants to expand it statewide. But the legislation has been stalled in the state Senate for months.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Tue December 3, 2013

State workers would get 2% pay raise under deal to end contract impasse

Jake Neher/ MPRN

A panel looking to end an impasse between the state and public employee unions is recommending a 2% pay increase for state workers. Under the proposal, many employees would likely have to pay more out-of-pocket for health insurance.

The panel released its recommendation after unions and the state failed to reach an agreement on a two-year contract.

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Politics & Government
5:21 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Anti-abortion proposal will go to state lawmakers

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

A proposal that would put new restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions is headed to the state Legislature.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Monday moved forward a proposal that would ban abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. Women would only be able to purchase abortion coverage as a separate rider.

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Politics & Government
6:30 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Abortion, issue ads, Medicaid expansion could see legislative action in December

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It could be a busy December for state lawmakers after they return from their Thanksgiving break.

Here are some of the issues that could come up for debate before the end of the year.

Paying for the Medicaid expansion delay – In a procedural vote earlier this year, state lawmakers delayed by about two months the implementation of Michigan’s Medicaid expansion law. In doing so, they created a hole in the budget of more than $70 million.

Legislative leaders say passing a bill to fill that hole is one of their top priorities in the coming weeks.

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