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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

A lighthouse on Pelee Island in Lake Erie.
Richard Hsu / Flickr

A new partnership has a plan to keep Lake Erie clean. The MI CLEAR group is made up of farmers, conservationists, environmental leaders, and more. Those groups are teaming up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Jamie Clover Adams is the Director of the Department of Agriculture. She said the multiple perspectives will help improve the lake’s water quality on a variety of fronts.

“This didn’t happen overnight and it’s not gonna be fixed overnight,” she said. “This is a very complex problem that will call for many solutions.”

Larry Nassar mug shot
Michigan Attorney General's office

A former Michigan State University sports doctor’s sexual assault case will continue as scheduled – despite objections by both the defense and the prosecutors.

Both sides agree Dr. Larry Nassar’s Ingham County trial needs to wait. Nassar will be sentenced on federal child pornography charges soon.

The current schedule has that court date happening the same week as jury selection for sexual assault charges in an Ingham County court.

The prosecutor and defense said that with all the media attention, Nassar wouldn’t be able to get a fair trial with that schedule.

RoseMarie Aquillina is the judge in the Ingham County case. She says there will be over 700 jurors to choose from.

“Those jurors will be told not to listen to the media.  Not to do any homework,” Aquillina said.

Nassar is accused of sexually assaulting multiple young gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.

Aquilina says that trial will go forward as planned.

School desks
Flickr user Frank Juarez/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some lawmakers in Lansing are debating whether the State Board of Education is necessary.

The resolution discussed at Thursday’s House education committee would do away with the state board, the board-appointed state superintendent, and the State Board for Public Community and Junior Colleges.

Instead, the governor would appoint a director for Michigan’s Department of Education.

A Republican candidate for governor has been kicked off of his Senate committees.

Senator Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) is known for being outspoken on conservative issues – even against his own party. He’s spoken out against Republican handling of the Medicaid expansion and the gas tax. Colbeck was already one of the few Republican Senators without a committee chairmanship.

Colbeck said he’ll continue to represent his district – it just might be a little harder now.

Michigan State Police

Legislation to nix Driver Responsibility Fees is moving through the state Legislature.

The fees require drivers to pay to get their driver’s license back after getting too many points on their license or committing certain driving offenses.

There’s already a law to phase out the fees completely in 2019. But lawmakers say that’s not soon enough. They want the fee to be gone by October of next year. And they want people that haven’t paid their fees to be forgiven.

Morgan Brenner / Flickr

A bill in the state Legislature would change how schools teach sex education. The new curriculum would focus on “changing the culture” around sexual assault.

“Under the current system, my daughter will be taught where not to walk, what not to wear, where not to leave her drink, while my sons will never be taught not to be perpetrators,” said bill sponsor, state Senator Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing.

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Michigan Supreme Court has awarded more than $3 million in grants to circuit courts across the state.

The money will help pay for the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, an intense probation supervision program in the state. The program is for high-risk, felony offenders who have a history of violating the rules of their probation. It offers specialized and structured help so they can finish their probation successfully – and stay out of trouble.

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

Members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus met with the head of the Michigan State Police Thursday.

 

The meeting was to address concerns about a meme Colonel Kriste Etue posted on Facebook. It called NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem “degenerates.”

 

Members of the caucus called for Etue’s resignation or firing.

The new House Speaker, Tom Leonard from DeWitt, wants to bring civility back to the political process in Lansing.
GOPHouse.org

  Michigan’s Speaker of the House has his eye on a new government position for 2019.

 

Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, announced Thursday he is running for state Attorney General. Leonard is in his third term as a State Representative.

 

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University

Michigan may start tracking its sexual assault evidence kits. An amendment to the state’s budget would pay for the required software and training.

The kits contain swabs and other evidence gathered from a victim of sexual assault. Software would track the kit as it moves from hospital to police department to laboratory. It also sends out alerts if a kit has been in one location too long. 

wrecked car
Robbie Howell / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state legislature held a marathon committee hearing on a bill to overhaul Michigan’s auto insurance law Tuesday. The committee heard ideas for potential changes to the bill.

One idea is to prevent insurance companies from using credit scores to influence rates.

Mayor Mike Duggan had a major hand in crafting the bill the committee discussed. He said he’d like to see changes to the bill; but he said the focus needs to be on passing immediate rate relief.

Another Democrat entered the ring for Michigan’s Attorney General Thursday.

Pat Miles is a former U.S. Attorney for Michigan’s Western District. He was appointed to the U.S. Attorney post by President Barack Obama. He voluntarily resigned when President Donald Trump took office.

Trump’s election was a driving force behind Miles’s decision to run, he said.

“We need somebody who will be an independent watchdog and who doesn’t answer to a president, a governor, or to corporate special interests, but only answers to the people,” Miles said.

Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

Lawmakers in Lansing say they want a seamless transition as marijuana dispensaries start to get licensed.

Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation today. A few Republicans have voiced support of the bills. The legislation would let dispensaries keep their doors open while they wait for a license.

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

A bipartisan group in Michigan rolled out a new auto no-fault insurance overhaul plan today.

Republican Speaker of the House, Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, and Detroit’s mayor, Mike Duggan, have been working together for months on the plan.

Lawmakers from both parties have tried for years to pass changes to Michigan’s auto insurance laws. Duggan said the legislation isn’t perfect for Democrats or Republicans. But he thinks he can get bipartisan support.  

krossbow / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

The Trump administration recently announced new guidance for how college campuses should handle sexual assault complaints. But Michigan universities won’t be changing their policies right away.

The Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault last week.

The new guidance isn’t mandatory, and officials say it’s temporary until they come up with new rules.

Daniel Hurley is the CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. He said Michigan campuses will keep their current policies for now.

Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is going to allow all-in-one medical marijuana facilities. The state’s licensing department today said it plans to let one person grow, process and sell marijuana – and do it all in one facility.

Andrew Brisbo is Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Bureau director. He says the plan isn’t set in stone yet. But Brisbo says the bureau wants to make sure people are aware of the intent.

User Sabine01 / Flickr

The Michigan Civil Service Commission voted to limit the collective bargaining powers of 35,000 state employees Wednesday.

It got rid of an individual union's ability to bargain for things like seniority, overtime pay, and scheduling.

Money
Andy / Flickr

Republicans in Lansing worked at a breakneck speed Tuesday to pass legislation that would allow politicians in Michigan to solicit campaign contributions on behalf of political action committees.

 

The bills had their first House committee hearing Tuesday morning and were headed to the governor’s desk by the end of the day. They’d passed in the Senate late last week.

 

Car accident
Ted Abbott/Flickr

An unlikely alliance has formed to overhaul Michigan’s auto no-fault system. Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, and Detroit’s mayor Mike Duggan met Tuesday. They say the goal is to bring rate relief to all Michigan drivers.

 

The Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state pipeline safety board met for the first time Monday since it was revealed that Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline had lost some of its coating.

The controversial pipeline sends oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac. The board was updated on the coating issue. But it’s waiting on a plan and repair schedule from Enbridge before deciding what to do next. 

The board did recommend state universities start a new study on the risks of the pipeline.

Steve Tennes at a microphone
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The owner of a Mid-Michigan farm will be back at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market this Sunday after a judge today granted an injunction in his lawsuit against the city. 

Steve Tennes sued East Lansing when he was denied his usual spot at the farmer’s market. The city said the farmer's Facebook posts saying the Eaton County farm would not host same sex marriages went against a city ordinance.

wrecked car
Robbie Howell / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Lansing say they have a plan to make auto insurance more affordable – without cutting benefits.

Representative Ben Frederick is a Republican. He says auto insurance cost is a topic that is constantly brought up. But he says nothing ever gets done about it.

“So this year we’re taking what has many might think is a forgotten approach in Lansing, and certainly long gone in DC – a bipartisan approach.”

hand with money
Pictures of Money / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It’s been seven years since the U.S. Supreme Court said corporations and labor unions can spend as much money as they want on political campaigns.

The court left it up to states to decide whether it institute their own limits. And today the Michigan Senate officially said, “No thanks.”

It passed legislation that would basically codify what the court said in its controversial Citizens United opinion.

rolls of cash
Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

  

According to new campaign finance disclosures, Quicken Loans spent more on lobbying state government in the first seven months of 2017 than it had spent in previous years.

Marijuana plant
USFWS

Michigan is giving medical marijuana businesses until December 15 to close or potentially risk not obtaining a license under a new regulatory system.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced the decision Tuesday, and hours later a state board dropped a proposal to potentially force the dispensaries to shut down later this week.

Tracy Samilton

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan could be decided tomorrow, when the state Medical Marijuana Licensing Board meets again to discuss whether current dispensaries should be able to get a license.

At the last meeting, one member said dispensaries should have to close their doors until the application process opens – or risk not getting a license at all.

The state’s licensing department will make a recommendation on the issue at the meeting.

A yellow school bus driving down the road
Like_the_Grand_Canyon / flickr

A free market think-tank says the use of private contractors in public schools has grown over the last decade and a half.

Seventy percent of public school districts in Michigan forgo the search for janitors, bus drivers and cafeteria staff. Instead, those schools rely on private contractors for at least one of those services. In 2001 only about 30% of school districts outsourced services.

James Hohman is with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which conducted the study. He said no school can provide public education by itself.

The Old Main building at Wayne State University
Wikimedia Commons

Many states across the country cut funding for public higher education during the Great Recession. A new report shows the money hasn’t been replaced in most states – including in Michigan.

A new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report looks at how states have slashed funding for public universities over the last decade. Michigan ranks in the middle. However, experts say that doesn’t paint the whole picture.

Stan Grot
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

There’s a new candidate for Michigan secretary of state.

Stan Grot announced he’s running today. He’s a Republican and current Shelby Township clerk. 

“He’s had integrity from the day one that I met him," said Jay Howse of Macomb County. "I’ve always had confidence in his decisions and I know he’ll be right.”            

One role of the Secretary of State is as the top elections officer.

A bottle of pills.
Pixabay

Democrats in Lansing want to stop prescription drug price hikes in Michigan.

Prescription drug prices have gone up in Michigan and across the U.S. over the last few years. A recent study by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association showed that the prices its members pay have gone up about 10 percent a year since 2010.

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