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.

 

A group of state lawmakers will try again to make major changes to Michigan’s medical marijuana law. Republican state Representative Lisa Lyons is sponsoring a bill that would allow patients to use non-smokable forms of cannabis – such as baked goods or oils

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget-cutting executive order, and presented a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. Schools, universities, and local governments were spared cuts as part the order to help clear away a deficit.


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WikiMedia Commons

  The state Senate is urging Congress to end endangered and threatened species protections for gray wolves in Michigan. It passed the resolution Tuesday on a mostly party-line vote.

Michigan has been debating for about two years whether to allow a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. That question was recently put to rest when a federal judge ordered Michigan wolves back on the endangered species list, along with wolves in two other states.

  Democratic state lawmakers are again hoping to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has said recently that more people who have died or moved out of state must be removed from the state’s voter registration database before lawmakers will agree to stop putting conditions on who can vote absentee.

Michigan teens would be able to pre-register to vote under a proposal in Lansing.

The measure would allow 16 and 17 year olds to fill out their voter registration paperwork when they get their driver’s licenses. The state would mail their voter cards when they turn 18.

Two unmarried people would be able to jointly adopt children together under a bill in the state House. Under current law, only married couples or single individuals can be grated parental rights to an adopted child.

For many same-sex couples, the issue could be decided when the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Michigan’s gay marriage ban. But the bill’s sponsor says the ruling still won’t affect joint adoption for unmarried people.

Legislation to streamline approval of concealed pistol licenses is likely to clear the state Senate this week.

The bills are similar to legislation Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed last month over concerns it would put domestic abuse victims in danger. But that controversial language was taken out of Senate Bill 34 when it was reintroduced.

Michigan teens would be able to pre-register to vote under a proposal in Lansing.

The measure would allow 16 and 17 year olds to fill out their voter registration paperwork when they get their driver’s licenses. The state would mail their voter cards when they turn 18.

“It’s another way of making government much more efficient,” said state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren. “It saves people in lines at secretary of state offices. It saves more correspondence going to the secretary of state’s office. It makes it a much easier process.”

The state has rejected ACT’s claim that Michigan unfairly switched its free college entrance exam to the SAT starting in spring 2016.

ACT protested two aspects of the bidding process. It said the state changed the timeline of the proposed contract and penalized ACT for having a writing portion. It says both of those things unfairly benefitted SAT.

State officials say they reviewed those concerns carefully.

A controversial gun bill similar to one that was recently vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder is likely to get a committee hearing this week.

The bill’s sponsor says the reintroduced legislation no longer contains language the governor and others worried could have put domestic abuse victims in danger. Opponents said it would have allowed people with personal protection orders (PPOs) against them to get concealed pistol licenses.

Online shoppers in Michigan could see a sales tax added to their purchases starting next October.

The legislation is now in front of Gov. Rick Snyder.

Supporters say it would end an unfair advantage for retailers such as Amazon.com over stores located in Michigan.

“What really pushed it over the line is the amount of companies that are doing business online,” said Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake. “And you have all the brick-and-mortar people that are dying.”

Michigan high school juniors will take the SAT instead of the ACT starting in spring 2016. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced the switch on Wednesday.

The state has provided a free college entrance exam for eleventh graders on the state’s standardized test for several years.

The College Board – the company that administers the SAT – won a three-year, $17.1 million contract.

MDE spokesperson Martin Ackley says the SAT will be a better test that will save the state money.

Courtesy Image / Pixabay.com

Legislation to ease medical marijuana restrictions in Michigan will have to wait until 2015. Listen below as Jake Neher explains why. 

 

Semis
Jake Neher / Michigan Public Radio Network

A group of semi-truck drivers made some noise Tuesday outside the state Capitol.

Several 18-wheelers circled the building with horns blaring to protest legislation that would increase fines and fees for overweight vehicles. It’s likely to be part of a compromise plan to increase funding to fix Michigan’s roads.

Supporters of a religious freedom bill in the state Legislature are pushing back against recent criticism. The legislation is meant to protect religious practices against state and local government interference.

Opponents of House Bill 5958 say it would make it easier for people and businesses to discriminate. For example, they claim emergency medical workers could legally refuse to treat LGBT people.

Ann Arbor-Saline Road
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

The state Senate will meet for a rare Monday session to kick off the final week of the Legislature’s “lame duck” session.

The goal is to get a head start on finding a compromise plan to boost road funding. 

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says he also wants to hold votes this week on easing legislative term limits.

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State Senate approves increasing penalties for coercing abortion

Coercing someone to have an abortion would carry tougher penalties under bills approved by the state Senate on Thursday. The crime could result in criminal penalties under Senate Bills 1156 and 1157.

Andrew Cluley

State Legislature getting ready to hammer out compromise on road funding

The state Legislature is taking steps to hammer out a road funding compromise in the final days of its 2014 session.

The House and Senate passed plans that are drastically different. The Senate approved legislation that would essentially double the state's gas tax to pay for road improvements. The House plan would divert revenues from schools and local governments and would not raise any taxes.

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Film credit extension heads to Gov. Snyder's desk

Gov. Rick Snyder will decide whether to extend Michigan's film credit program through 2021.

The incentives are currently set to expire in 2017. The state Senate gave final legislative approval to the extension Tuesday morning with bipartisan support.

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Ban on student athlete unions clears state House

Student athletes at Michigan's public universities would be banned from unionizing under a bill approved by the state House on Tuesday. House Bill 6074 passed on a party-line vote.

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State House approves suspicion-based drug testing for welfare recipients

The state House has approved a bill that would revoke welfare payments from people who fail drug tests. The state would implement the one-year pilot program in three counties that have not yet been selected.

The drug testing will be conducted based on "reasonable suspicion," unlike previous programs in Michigan that made testing mandatory.

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State Senate rejects bill to reduce truck weight limits

The state Senate has rejected a bill that would reduce the amount of weight trucks are allowed to carry on Michigan's roads. The state has the highest truck weight limits in the country.

Democrats say reducing the limits will help keep the roads from crumbling.

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Gov. Snyder urges state House to pass gas tax increase for roads

State lawmakers have just nine or ten more session days in 2014, and still no consensus on how to raise money to help fix Michigan's roads.

With the Legislature's "lame duck" session about to start up in earnest on Tuesday, Gov. Rick Snyder spent Monday promoting a specific road funding plan at events in Detroit and Southfield.

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Bills to keep schools out of deficit on long list of "lame duck" issues

State lawmakers could take up legislation next week meant to keep schools out of deficit.

The legislation would require more reporting from schools that are deemed to be in financial trouble. It could also open up more money in state grants and loans.

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State House expected to take up film credit extension in December

The state House is expected to take up legislation next month that could decide the future of Michigan's film credit program.

The credits will go away in 2017 if lawmakers do not act to extend them. The state Senate passed a bill last month that would keep them alive. Senate Bill 1103 got wide bipartisan support.

It appears the bill will continue to move now that it is in the state House.

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