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Cheyna Roth

Capitol Reporter

Cheyna Roth

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR.

Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN.

Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker.

Ways to Connect

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The latest version of changes to the state’s teacher retirement plan passed through committees Wednesday. The changes were announced late Tuesday and received committee hearings early Wednesday morning.  

The House and Senate adopted identical amendments to bills their respective chambers had already introduced.

Democrats have largely been left out of behind the scenes negotiations between the governor and leaders of the House and Senate. Democratic Representative Winne Brinks voiced her frustration with the speed the bills were moving during a committee hearing.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A deal for the state’s budget and teacher retirement has been made.

Top Republican lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder have been in a stalemate over what to do with the teacher’s retirement plan.

But now a deal is in place.

The current teacher retirement plan gives teachers the option between a straight 401K and a hybrid 401K and pension-type plan.

In addition to providing hundreds of thousands with health insurance, Healthy Michigan has also helped Michigan hospitals save hundreds of millions of dollars because of a reduction in uncompensated care.
Chealion / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Republicans in Lansing are trying to roll back the state’s Medicaid expansion – but their legislation may be dead on arrival.

Governor Rick Snyder has been an advocate for the Healthy Michigan Medicaid expansion at home and in Washington, D.C.

But some Republicans in the state House want to close the expansion to all new enrollees beginning October 1st. HB 4598 is currently waiting for its first committee hearing.

Woman with head covering walking away
Héctor de Pereda / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal prosecutor recently revealed as many as 100 girls in Michigan may have been victims of female genital mutilation. Now the state legislature is working quickly to pass bills to make it a 15-year felony in Michigan.

teacher with two students
departmentofed / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Top lawmakers in the state Legislature have reached a tentative agreement with Gov. Rick Snyder about changes to the state’s teacher retirement system.

 

House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, and Senate Majority Leader Meekhof, R-West Olive, have been aggressively pursuing a plan to shut down the state’s hybrid pension and 401(k) system. Meekhof and Leonard want to put all new hires into a 401(k) plan.

flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state House passed controversial gun legislation today to get rid of the permit necessary to carry a concealed weapon.

Advocates say you already don’t need a permit to open carry.

 

Gun in holster on hip
Paul Weaver / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Colleges are allowed to ban guns on their campuses.

 

That was the decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday. Of the three judges on the panel, one dissented. The Court said colleges can ban guns on their campuses without violating the Second Amendment.

 

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

The state is hammering out its budget. And lawmakers are having a sharp disagreement with the governor’s office over one of Michigan’s biggest price tags – the corrections budget. Both sides agree rehabilitation and lowering recidivism is the way to go. But they can’t agree on how much money to spend this year.

At stake are programs – like the Vocational Village in Ionia – that have helped lower the state’s incarceration rate.

Handguns.
user Ben Re / Flickr

Some Democrats in the Legislature are calling for a law that would allow authorities to seize the firearms of people who threaten to commit suicide or hurt others.

 

State Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park, sponsored a bill that would allow a judge to issue an “extreme risk protection order.” The order would have to requested by a family member or a law enforcement official. And it could last no more than a year.

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow / Flickr

State officials and health care providers called on Washington lawmakers to keep the state’s Medicaid expansion Monday.

From doctors to the state budget director, the message is clear. Let the state keep its Healthy Michigan Medicaid expansion. In order to do that, the federal government needs to keep paying for it.

But right now lawmakers in Washington are churning out plans that don’t seem to coincide with this goal.

google creative commons

The Michigan Supreme Court has put new limits on the so-called “knock and talk.”

Police officers suspected a house had marijuana butter inside. Around 4 a.m., they knocked until someone inside came to the door. The officers talked to a resident and eventually got permission to search the house.

The Supreme Court said this wasn’t OK.

Mark Reene is the president of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan. He says for law enforcement, this is just a matter of looking for new best practices.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is getting pushback for his big announcement earlier this week. Calley says he’ll push for a ballot proposal that would make Michigan’s legislature part-time.

Calley and other advocates say it’ll help clean up Michigan’s government. They argue it would cut down on taxpayer expenses and lawmakers should have to live and work at home under the laws they pass.

But even term-limited lawmakers, with no dog in the fight are arguing against the proposal.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some businesses are set to get millions of dollars in tax incentives – if Governor Snyder signs a package of bills.

Around the time those bills were going through the legislature, business groups were giving big political action committee donations to some key lawmakers.


a police squad car
Flickr user Scott Davidson/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A controversial Grand Rapids police procedure can continue, for now. A Michigan Court of Appeals chose to not decide if the so-called P and P procedure is constitutional.

Sen. Patrick Colebeck

Controversial legislation surrounding license plate fundraising is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

Republican lawmakers have tried for years to pass similar legislation. The bill would create a Choose Life fundraising license plate with proceeds going to the Choose Life Fund for nonprofit organizations for, “life-affirming programs and projects.”

The Choose Life Fund was created by Right to Life of Michigan – an anti-abortion group.

Democrats in the House attempted to pass several amendments to broaden the scope of where proceeds would go. All failed.

MORGUEFILE

A portion of the state Senate budget is getting pushback from the Michigan Crime Victims Services Commission.

The Senate voted to move crime victim services out of the Department of Health and Human Services – and into the Attorney General’s Office.

The budget still has a few steps to go through before it’s finalized. So the commission drafted and unanimously passed a resolution urging lawmakers to reject an effort to move the state’s crime victim services, funding and programs into the Attorney General’s Office.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A showdown is brewing in Lansing over the fate of teacher retirements. 

Teachers can currently choose between a full 401(k) type plan or a hybrid 401(k) and pension plan.

Many Democrats, like Senator David Knezek, oppose the legislation.

“We have example after example after example of why this doesn’t work,” he said. “Why it doesn’t make fiscal sense in the short term. Why it doesn’t make fiscal sense in the long-term. But what we are I think leaving out of that conversation is the real impact that it has on people’s lives.”

MORGUEFILE

A portion of the state Senate budget is getting pushback from the Michigan Crime Victims Services Commission.

The Senate voted to move crime victim services out of the Department of Health and Human Services – and into the Attorney General’s Office.

The budget still has a few steps to go through before it’s finalized. So the commission drafted and unanimously passed a resolution urging lawmakers to reject an effort to move the state’s crime victim services, funding and programs into the Attorney General’s Office.

The Mulholland brothers ran an $18 million Ponzi scheme, the AG says
Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Some state officials might be getting a raise for the first time in years. That’s if the legislature adopts recommendations made by the State Officers Compensation Commission Friday.

The commission recommends a ten percent pay increase for state Supreme Court Justices. Their salaries have been frozen for over a decade. It also recommends the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state go back to their salaries from before 2010, when they got a pay cut.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Controversial legislation on state regulatory rules is making its way through the Legislature.

The House approved a bill Thursday to prevent the state from being tougher on things like environmental and workplace safety than the federal government.

Proponents of the legislation, say less regulation is the way to go and a federal standard is enough regulation for the state.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard supported similar legislation that failed in the Senate last year, and again voted in favor.

Woman's silhouette
Creative Commons

State lawmakers are quickly pushing through legislation to make female genital mutilation a state crime. About two weeks ago a Senate committee passed legislation that would make performing female genital mutilation a 15-year felony.

The legislation was introduced shortly after two Detroit area doctors were federally charged with conspiring to commit female genital mutilation on two young girls from Minnesota.

Bill sponsor, Republican Senator Margaret O’Brien, said the five-year federal penalty isn’t enough.

Handguns.
user Ben Re / Flickr

Gun rights are up for debate in the state Legislature, again.

A set of bills to get rid of the requirement to carry a permit in order to carry a concealed pistol was up in front of a House committee Tuesday.

Advocates say the legislation is long overdue and the legislation wouldn’t take away the regulations on who can carry a firearm.

But opponents say it erodes gun safety.

Looking up into the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol.
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A battle is heating up in Lansing over the state’s corrections budget.

Republican Senator John Proos’ subcommittee on corrections passed a budget that cuts the Department of Corrections' budget by about $40 million. Proos said because the prison population is down, continuing to spend about the same amount each year means they are spending too much per prisoner.

Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s attempts to privatize prison food services is still running into problems. The legislature approved outsourcing prison food service in 2012 to cut costs. But it canceled its first contract with Aramark in 2015, after numerous problems.

 

Reports obtained by the liberal watchdog group Progress Michigan show the prisons are still having problems with spoiled food and outside staff.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Big business investors are waiting on Governor Rick Snyder to give them a break. A tax break that is, to build on blighted land.

Investors who buy blighted property would get new tax incentives, under a set of bills on their way to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

Last year, these so-called brownfield bills were nicknamed after Dan Gilbert, the prominent Detroit developer. That’s because opponents call them a gift to wealthy corporations at the expense of taxpayers.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
user alkruse24 / Flickr

The state is stepping in to help struggling schools instead of closing them.

 

Earlier this year 38 schools were marked for potential closure. Those were schools that consistently ranked in the bottom five percent of all public schools in the state.

 

RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel holding a microphone
www.migop.org

Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel was in Lansing Friday. Her visit comes on the heels of a controversial health care vote.

Democrats fought the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They say the Republican plan that would replace it has worse coverage and would cost millions their healthcare coverage. 

Romney McDaniel says the new plan will save American lives.

Pete / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Law enforcement and pharmacists are working together to curb methamphetamine production in the state.

It’s called the “Anti-Smurfing Campaign.”

Smurfing is the practice of buying cold and allergy medicine – like  Sudafed – that contain meth ingredients, for meth cooks.

Some of Michigan’s top law enforcement members met Thursday to announce the launch. It’s a partnership with pharmacies to display posters discouraging the practice.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Democrats in Lansing have renewed their mission for a Voter Bill of Rights.

Democrats in the state House attempted to pass a resolution to amend the Michigan Constitution last year. This time, State Representative Jon Hoadley is spearheading the effort.

Hoadley said a Voter Bill of Rights would empower people and let them know their voices are heard.

“The entire process from registering to vote in Michigan to dropping your ballot in the ballot box hasn’t improved in 20 years while other states, Red and Blue, have left us in the dust,” he said.

user Thomas Anderson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A state Senate committee holds a hearing Tuesday on bills to outlaw female genital mutilation in Michigan.

It’s already a federal crime with a penalty of up to five years in prison. The bill’s sponsors say that’s not tough enough.

But a lot of experts say a tougher law may not be enough to deter an entrenched cultural and religious practice.

Republican Senator Margaret O’Brien says she was surprised to learn that Michigan didn’t already ban the practice of female genital mutilation.

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