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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

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.

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

In December, the state will start accepting applications for medical marijuana shops to get licenses. But meanwhile, there’s a dispute over how to deal with the dispensaries that are already open.

At a meeting today, the state’s medical marijuana licensing board considered whether dispensaries should have to close their doors before they can get a license. At least two board members want dispensaries that are already open to close next month – or risk being denied a license.

More than half a million people voted absentee in this week's primary election
Lars Plougmann

Several ballot proposals for Michigan’s 2018 election cleared a hurdle today.

The Board of State Canvassers approved the form of proposals on earned sick time, marijuana legalization and redistricting.

That doesn’t mean the board guarantees the content of the ballots will hold up against lawsuits. But it makes sure the campaign won’t succumb to a challenge in front of the board on technical issues after they gather signatures.

Cheyna Roth / MPRN

The first hearings to compensate people who’ve been wrongfully convicted started today, but some left the courtroom unsatisfied.

 

The hearings come after a new law was signed at the end of last year. That law provides for wrongfully convicted people to be compensated $50,000 for each year they were in prison.

 

Dana Nessel, wearing blue, speaks into a microphone.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

A civil rights attorney announced her run for state Attorney General today.

Dana Nessel was an attorney for a same sex couple whose case went on to be part of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

More recently, the Democrat is part of a task force with the Wayne County prosecutor’s office to investigate hate crimes against the LGBT community.

Nessel is a former prosecuting attorney. She says she isn’t worried about only being viewed as the LGBT candidate.

voting booths
user eyspahn / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A grassroots group that wants to get an anti-gerrymandering proposal on the 2018 ballot is looking to make progress this week.

Voters Not Politicians is the non-partisan group in charge of the effort. It wants to change how the state draws its district lines.

The Board of State Canvassers will meet Thursday to approve or reject the form of the petition. It will look at things like font size and which portions of the constitution are referenced. This is meant to prevent lawsuits for improper format down the road.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A report by the Michigan Auditor General says patient care at the problem-plagued Grand Rapids Home for Veterans has improved.

A 2016 audit of the nursing home revealed falsified records, employees skipping room checks, and other issues.

Enbridge's Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

State agencies have weighed in on the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

There’s still time for people to comment on a report about potential alternatives to the Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Agency for Energy, Michigan Public Service Commission and Office of the Attorney General gave their thoughts over the weekend.

The line sends oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan needs to improve its oversight when it comes to the Flint water crisis. That is a finding by the Michigan Auditor General released in a report Monday.

It says the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) didn’t provide enough oversight of the food and water lead safety inspections.

“The work got done, but the paperwork, documentation, should have been better,” said Jennifer Holton of MDARD.

MDARD oversees the inspections performed by the Genesee County Health Department.

military veterans
John M. Cropper / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Democratic lawmakers in Lansing say the Attorney General is doing too little, too late.

The Attorney General announced criminal charges against workers at the state-run Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Schuette’s investigation of the veteran’s home started in May of 2016. This was after a scathing audit of the home revealed that workers falsified records, skipped room checks, and other issues.

But Representatives Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, and Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said they sounded the alarm as early as 2013.

The "Pure Michigan" campaign highlights beautiful and memorable places and experiences in Michigan.
user PunkToad / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The multi-million dollar Pure Michigan campaign is getting an evaluation. The state auditor general started a review this week.

Representatives Steven Johnson, R-Wayland and Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, asked for the audit. Johnson said he wants to make sure the campaign is a good deal for taxpayers.

“I like the ads, too. I think they’re, you know, they’re nice to see on TV. They make me feel good about Michigan,” he said. “But it’s millions of dollars that we’re spending and that money doesn’t come from nowhere. That comes from the hardworking taxpayers of Michigan.”

A string of rainbow flags against a blue sky
Chomiji / flickr

LGBT activists say the state’s civil rights law is too vague when it comes to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

Now they’re calling on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to clarify the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act lists attributes people can’t discriminate for – like race, religion and sex.

 

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline continues to face public scrutiny.

Several state officials heard public comment on Tuesday. It was the first of three such sessions planned around the state.

The Enbridge Line 5 pipeline carries crude oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac. Environmental groups say that could lead to disaster.

The feedback will be taken into consideration by independent contractors working on a final report about possible alternatives to the pipeline. A draft of the report was released several weeks ago.

inside the chambers of the Michigan lesilature
Michigan Municipal League

Governor Rick Snyder signed a large bill package last week that makes female genital mutilation a felony in Michigan, but he could see more bills on this issue headed to his desk. The additional bills deal with police training and parental rights.

Courtesy Patrick Colbeck

A state senator is entering the Republican race for governor.

Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, hopes to succeed term-limited Governor Rick Snyder. He will formally announce his campaign Saturday at noon, at the Yankee Air Museum near Ypsilanti.

Colbeck was a design engineer for Boeing before he became a senator in in 2011.

“I came in with a fresh perspective, a business perspective,” he said. “And with the simple perspective says, ‘What I say I’m gonna do on the campaign trail is exactly what I’m gonna do when I’m serving.’”

NIH IMAGE GALLERY / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

State lawmakers have formed a task force to look for ways to improve mental health treatment in Michigan.

It’s called the House C.A.R.E.S task force. C.A.R.E.S stands for Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety.

The committee was formed by House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-Dewitt. Late last year, Leonard said a mental health overhaul was one of his top priorities.

Now he has appointed over a dozen state lawmakers to serve on the bipartisan task force.

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