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.

Pages

Politics & Government
7:13 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

State Senate expected to vote on Medicaid expansion this week

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan could get a vote in the state Senate as early as tomorrow.   So could two other alternative plans to extend health insurance to low-income Michiganders.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says whichever route he and his colleagues decide to take, they have to address the issue this week.

Read more
Transportation
4:26 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

State police and lawmakers want to boost speed limits across Michigan

Flickr user taberandrew Flickr

The Michigan State Police and some lawmakers say it’s time to boost speed limits across the state. Many limits have not been adjusted for decades.

Republican state Senator Rick Jones plans to introduce legislation next month to increase the limits. The former county sheriff says the measure would also reduce speed traps.

“We have had some artificially lower speed limits posted. I believe many of them are posted for revenue, and it simply is not needed.”

The legislation would require local governments to set speed limits based on scientific studies.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:10 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

State lawmakers still far from agreeing on plan to fix Michigan's roads

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A plan to improve Michigan’s roads and infrastructure will probably not be on the November ballot. That’s according to leaders of both parties in the state Senate.

Governor Rick Snyder wants the state Legislature to boost road funding by more than a billion dollars a year. But lawmakers have not embraced his plan to raise registration fees and the state’s gas tax to pay for it.

Instead, multiple plans have surfaced that would include asking voters to increase the state’s sales tax.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:21 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

State lawmakers look to get Common Core discussions back on track

Opponents of the Common Core State Standards say that the regulations could take away local control.
user frank juarez Flickr

National education activist Diane Ravitch is expected tomorrow to urge state lawmakers not to adopt a set of nation-wide school standards. A state House panel is holding several hearings over the summer on the Common Core State Standards.

The committee will also hear testimony from supporters, including business leaders and state education officials.

Democratic state Representative Adam Zemke sits on the panel.

“If you look at the list of presenters that we have coming to talk, it’s really a wide range of positions on the Common Core. And they all have significant credibility to their standing.”

Ravitch and other opponents say the Common Core standards take away local control and are not proven to improve student performance.

Supporters say the standards are necessary to make sure Michigan students are ready for college and careers.

Read more
Politics & Government
11:18 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Overhauling Michigan's parole system could save taxpayers millions

A prison cell.
Flickr user Still Burning Creative Commons

Michigan’s inmates stay in prison longer than those in any of the 35 states Pew Research Center studied in 2012.

For Monica Jahner, that meant spending 28 years of her life behind bars. She was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in 1978. No one died in her case.

But Jahner doesn’t see herself as a victim. She says she spent those 28 years in prison trying to improve her life and the lives of fellow inmates.

“I got my degree and, you know, I did a lot while I was there. I didn’t just sit around. I fought and helped to get education for the women,” Jahner said. “My journey was a good one because I made a lot of impact on the system, I think.”

Jahner got her first chance at parole ten years into her sentence. But right around that same time, a Michigan convict on parole confessed to killing four teenage girls. Jahner says that made it nearly impossible for people like her to get in front of the parole board.

It was another 18 years before she walked out the front door of Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth after a string of parole battles.

She now works with former inmates and parolees to get their lives on track, and advocates for prisoners who are still inside.

“I go door to door to go out there and let people see you can give people a second chance,” Jahner. “When they find out I go to prison, I mean, literally heads spin around.”

Read more
Politics & Government
10:01 am
Thu August 8, 2013

State attorney general ready to defend DIA collection in bankruptcy court

The Detroit Institute of Arts.
user aMichiganMom Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he’s prepared to defend the Detroit Institute of Arts collection in federal bankruptcy court. Schuette recently released an opinion that the artwork cannot be sold to satisfy the city’s creditors because it is held in a public trust.


Schuette spokesperson Joy Yearout says he’ll take that position in front of Judge Steven Rhodes if the city puts the collection on the table.

“If and when the issue of how the DIA’s charitable trusts are treated in bankruptcy comes up in court before Judge Rhodes, the attorney general will be prepared to defend the position that they should be protected,” Yearout said.

Read more
Politics & Government
9:57 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Medical marijuana board rejects asthma, autism as acceptable conditions

A marijuana plant.
user eljoja Flickr

A state review board has voted to keep autism and asthma off the list of health conditions that can be legally treated using medical marijuana.

But activists say the panel is acting in violation of the state’s medical marijuana law. They say the votes were taken without proper public comment and that the board lacks adequate representation from the medical community.

Panel chair Matthew Davis says public comment was not necessary because the ailments had already been considered by a previous board.

“The public hearings therefore occurred as part of our process, specified under law,” Davis said. And then today, our review panel took another look at these diagnoses and the remarks of the public regarding autism and asthma.”

That previous board was dissolved by the state because its make-up also violated the medical marijuana law. The state says it’s working to fix the problem.

Politics & Government
10:38 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Advocate says 'bureaucratic nonsense' holding up Michigan's marijuana law

user r0bz Flickr

A state panel will meet this week to consider whether new health conditions should be covered under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act, but there’s a question over whether the board’s make-up violates that law.

The state dissolved a similar panel earlier this year. That board had already voted to allow patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease to use medical pot, but those conditions were never officially added to the list of acceptable ailments.

Now some advocates question whether the new board risks the same fate because it doesn’t include proper representation from the medical community.

Attorney and medical marijuana advocate Michael Komorn says it could be a setback for patients.

“It just seems to be more bureaucratic nonsense that has impeded the proper implementation of this law. And it’s uncalled for.”

Komorn says it’s critical to put a board in place that complies with the voter-approved law.

“I don’t know why the government can’t get it together to allow these other conditions - that people can receive benefits from - from moving forward,” said Komorn.

State officials say they’re working to fix the make-up of the panel.

Politics & Government
9:14 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Lawmaker wants to raise state sales tax to help students pay for college

State Representative Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills).
House Democrats Michigan.gov

Many Michigan students would pay little to no money for in-state college tuition under a proposal in Lansing. State Representative Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills) wants to raise the state’s sales tax by one percent to pay for the plan.

Barnett talked about the proposal on the Michigan Public Television program “Off the Record.”

“People are recognizing that we need to find a way to make sure that all of our kids who graduate high school who want to go on and get a higher educational degree have the opportunity to do so without having the weight and burden of student loans carrying them down,” Barnett said.

Besides helping students gain access to higher education, she says it would also help attract employers.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:40 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Gov. Snyder 'relentlessly positive' about Medicaid expansion prospects

Governor Rick Snyder

Governor Rick Snyder is applauding a state Senate panel for advancing a bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan. For weeks, Snyder has been trying to put pressure on lawmakers to vote to extend Medicaid benefits to hundreds of thousands of residents.

But the committee also approved two alternative proposals that also seek to extend coverage to low-income Michiganders. Those plans would not expand Medicaid.

Snyder says he’s not worried that the competing bills will peel votes away from the legislation he supports.

“That’s yet to be seen. In many respects, I’m not sure you have to say you can only vote for one bill. If you actually see value in more than one bill, why does that mean you can only vote for one?”

All three proposals now go to the full Senate. A vote on the issue is expected at the end of this month.

Politics & Government
9:51 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Medicaid expansion bill clears state Senate committee

The state Capitol in Lansing.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

A state Senate panel has approved legislation to expand Medicaid in Michigan. The bill would extend coverage to hundreds of thousands of residents through the Affordable Care Act.

The panel also advanced two alternative Medicaid proposals. Neither would expand Medicaid. But proponents say they would expand health care coverage – either through other state programs or the free market.

Senator Bruce Caswell  is sponsoring legislation that would create a state-run health care program for low-income residents who are not currently eligible for Medicaid.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:30 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Senate panel will take Medicaid vote Wednesday

Capitol building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

A state Senate panel is expected to vote tomorrow on legislation to expand Medicaid in Michigan. It would extend Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of residents under the Affordable Care Act.
 
State Senate Republicans refused to vote on the Medicaid expansion bill last month before their summer recess. Since then, a legislative work group has made relatively small changes to the proposal.

But Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he thinks the changes will be enough to win over some of his GOP colleagues.

“I think that there will be a lot more support. It’ll be broader support than the one that was put in front of us, when I don’t believe the votes were there.”

The panel will also consider two alternative proposals, which would not expand Medicaid under the federal health care law.

Politics & Government
10:14 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Bill seeks to stop police from tracking someone via GPS without warrant

State representative Jeff Irwin
HouseDems.com Michigan.gov

Some state lawmakers want to make it a felony for police officers to track people using GPS without a warrant.

The legislation in Lansing has bipartisan support.

Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) is teaming up with Republican Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) on the issue.

Irwin says it’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment – which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“Warrantless surveillance of where we are and what we’re doing, certainly in my mind falls underneath that definition,” Irwin said.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:12 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

State police, lawmakers look to crack down on schools that ignore emergency drill rules

Snyder's plan addresses school safety after events like the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Office of Governor Rick Snyder Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State Police officials say it’s time to crack down on schools that ignore emergency safety drill rules.

A state police task force says schools should be forced to report when and how safety drills are conducted. Those reports would have to be posted on the schools’ web sites.

Republican state Representative Joe Graves is sponsoring legislation he says will incorporate that and other recommendations.

“So Johnny’s mom and dad and grandparents can go on there and say, ‘Yep, he’s getting trained,’ and it goes throughout the year, distributed evenly.”

The task force is part of Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to address school safety issues after recent tragedies, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.

Recent investigations by MLive Media Group suggest many Michigan schools have been breaking laws related to school safety drills.

Business
5:30 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Private businesses in Michigan to partner with the state on transportation projects?

user theed17 wikimedia commons

The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking businesses whether they’re interested in partnering with the state for certain projects. That could include taking over the building, operating, or financing of infrastructure projects from the state.

Joe Pavona is Governor Rick Snyder’s special advisor on public-private partnerships.

“I think that this is the direction of the future, and I think is consistent with providing improved customer service and value for Michigan,” he says.

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating how to boost transportation spending by more than a billion dollars a year. Pavona says including private businesses in transportation projects could save the state money and time.

But Michigan’s largest state employees union doesn’t like the idea. Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6000.

“You’re talking about services and responsibilities that are vital. And you’re talking about issues of safety, of course. And we believe that certain things are best handled by the state workforce,” he says.

Right now, MDOT is exploring public-private partnerships involving bridge work, freeway lighting, and two rest areas in Northern Michigan.

It says it’s too early to say whether the partnerships would shift public sector jobs to the private sector.

Politics & Government
3:39 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Michigan Senate unveils own version of Medicaid expansion

The state capitol building
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The state Senate is ready to move forward with its own version of a bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan. A legislative work group today unveiled a plan that keeps the same basic structure of a bill that passed the state House last month.

Changes include adding more incentives for healthy lifestyles and requiring more state reports on the Medicaid program.

Senator Roger Kahn chaired the work group that drafted the proposal. He says he’s confident it will pass both the Senate and the House.

“Do we have differences with the House? Yeah, we have some differences. They aren’t very significant. During the remaining part of the process here, those differences will be addressed and worked out,” he says.

Read more
Transportation
10:59 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Drug and alcohol-related car crashes rise in 2012

A Michigan State Police car.
user GPDII wikimedia commons

Michigan police arrested more drivers for being under the influence of alcohol and drugs in 2012 compared to 2011, according to a report released today by the Michigan State Police.

The study also shows more injuries and fatalities related to impaired driving. Last year, 342 drug and alcohol-related deaths were reported by state officers. In 2011, that number was 319.

But Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Anne Readette say those numbers are still much lower than they were five years ago.

“We are making long-term progress in both of those areas,” Readette said. “So big picture things are moving in the direction we want, but certainly not what we wanted to see on a year-to-year basis.”

Read more
Breaking
5:44 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Buena Vista, Inkster school districts to be dissolved

Inkster High School
Dwight Burdette wikimedia commons

The Buena Vista and Inkster Public School districts will be dissolved. Both districts missed a 5pm deadline today to prove they had enough money to keep doors open next school year.

Richard Syrek is superintendent of the Saginaw Intermediate School District, which will be responsible for dissolving Buena Vista schools. He says the ISD plans to hold a community meeting Wednesday evening.

“So they can give us some idea of where they would like to go to school next year. Because we have a short period of time at this time to make a decision on what the boundaries are going to be. So we’d like their input.”

Syrek says a number of surrounding school districts say they can accommodate students from Buena Vista in the fall.

Officials with Inkster Public Schools said Comerica Bank was willing to extend a loan to the district. But they say it fell through because state officials would not approve Inkster’s deficit elimination plan first.

Politics & Government
6:40 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

State senator wants to give incentive for any company that builds an oil refinery in Michigan

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A state lawmaker says he has a plan to drive down Michigan’s high gas prices.

Senator Rick Jones says it’s time to build a new oil refinery.   But not everyone’s sold on the plan.

Jones introduced legislation that would give a ten-year property and equipment tax exemption to any company willing to build a new refinery in Michigan.

“And that’s exactly what we need in Michigan to make sure we have adequate supplies,” says Jones.

Jones says more supply means lower prices at the pump.

Read more
Politics & Government
10:45 am
Wed July 17, 2013

State lawmakers begin hearings on Common Core, anger and frustration ensues

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan.
Michigan.gov

Debate is underway in Lansing about whether to implement a set of state school standards.

A state House panel held its first meeting on Common Core State Standards Tuesday.

Republican Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) grilled state Department of Education officials about Common Core. He says the standards take away local control and were developed and adopted without public input.

Meanwhile, state Superintendent State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is urging lawmakers to go forward with a set of nationwide school standards. Flanagan argues that districts would have final say over standards and curriculum.

“Technically, [districts] don’t even have to follow the Common Core,” Flanagan said. “Now, I think they will. It’s a smart...well thought out set of standards.”

Gov. Rick Snyder also supports adopting the Common Core standards.

Read more

Pages