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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.

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Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Marches for stricter gun laws happened all across Michigan and the U.S. Saturday.

About 2,000 people walked from the Hall of Justice to the State Capitol, carrying signs and chanting.

Their message was simple “Our kids aren’t safe, and that needs to change.”  

Two signs side by side. One says "Stronger Together" and the other says "Protect Kids Not Guns"
Brian Wybenga

Marches for stricter gun laws happened all across Michigan and the U.S. today.

Thousands of people gathered in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, and several other Michigan cities.

In Lansing, about 2,000 people walked from the Hall of Justice to the State Capitol, carrying signs and chanting.

A judge cannot impose a certain sentence simply because a defendant exercised his right to a trial. The Michigan Court of Appeals made this ruling today, for the second time. To the same judge.

In 2016, the court told Judge Qiana Lillard of Wayne County that her practice of sentencing defendants who go to trial at the top of their sentence range violated their rights. But that wasn’t a precedent setting opinion. Now the court has made itself clear and set the precedent.

The state Legislature began discussions Wednesday on the newest plan to make people work for Medicaid.

The bill would require able-bodied adults to perform an average of 30 hours of work, job training, or education every week. Pregnant adults, people with medical disabilities, and others would not be included.

Bill sponsor, Senator Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, and the CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Richard Studley, both agreed that the state’s Medicaid expansion, Healthy Michigan, isn’t working.

Governor Rick Snyder signing the bill that will allow for autonomous vehicles to be driven on public roads.
Ryan Burklow / Executive Office of Gov. Rick Snyder

Michigan lawmakers are comfortable with the state’s current driverless vehicle laws. In 2016, the governor signed into law regulations on autonomous vehicles. Those also allow for testing of self-driving cars on state roads.

But this week an autonomous vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

Governor Rick Snyder has championed autonomous vehicles for a while. He said they need to find out all the issues associated with the death, but he’s not sure it will stall development of autonomous vehicles.

Olivia Cowan
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Lawmakers in Lansing have been working on legislation in response to the Larry Nassar case. And while they’re at it, some say they might want to clarify who counts as a victim when it comes to giving impact statements at a defendant’s sentencing.

A cafeteria worker's gloved hand grabs waffle fries with tongs.
U.S. Air Force

An effective food system in the state’s prisons should go beyond just feeding prisoners. That’s the message of some lawmakers in the state Senate.

The governor announced he wants to end privatized food service in the state’s prisons. Senator John Proos, R-St. Joseph, said this is an opportunity to go a step further. He’s put together a work group to explore training inmates in food services. Proos said there are thousands of available jobs across the state in the restaurant industry. 

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s national Sunshine Week – a time when officials and reporters shed light on access to public information.

Margaret O'Brien
Margaret O'Brien / senatormargaretobrien.com

Legislation created out of tragedy is scheduled for a vote in the state Senate this week. Larry Nassar is the former Michigan State University sports doctor who sexually assaulted young patients under the guise of treatment for decades. Lawmakers have been working on legislation to prevent a similar case from happening again.

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

Victims would have more rights under bills passed by the state House Thursday.

One bill would require defendants be physically present in the courtroom when a victim or victim’s family gives an impact statement at sentencing. The other is aimed at making sure students don’t have to go to school with someone who sexually assaulted them.

money
Mathieu Turle / unsplash

Some lawmakers in Lansing want people to work to get Medicaid. The Senate introduced a bill Thursday. It would add work requirements to the Medical Assistance Program, or Medicaid.

Medicaid is a federal program that gives low-income people – along with children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities - health insurance.

If passed, able-bodied adults would be required to work or continue school for 30 hours per week as a condition of receiving medical assistance.

protester wearing gas mask
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of protestors spent hours on the Michigan State University campus yesterday. They were demonstrating because of white supremacist Richard Spencer, who gave a speech last night. When protestors and Spencer’s supporters met outside the venue, things turned violent.

Michigan Radio Capitol reporter Cheyna Roth was there. She spoke with Michigan Radio's "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou.

Protesters against Richard Spencer at MSU
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

The outskirts of Michigan State University’s campus were flooded with protesters Monday. Police estimate more than 150 people showed up to demonstrate against white supremacist Richard Spencer. Some say they were there because they wanted to show up against fascism.

Richard Spencer
User V@S / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A white supremacist, Richard Spencer will speak at Michigan State University this evening – much to the dismay of many in the community. Spencer’s request to speak was initially denied by the campus – but a lawsuit resulted in a compromise between the two sides. Spencer is permitted to use the MSU pavilion on the outskirts of campus during spring break.

Pearl Pirie / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Roads, flood damage repairs, and an investigation could get money sent their way soon. The Legislature sent a spending bill to the governor’s desk today.

Every lawmaker in the House and Senate voted in favor of the bill. The big ticket item is roads – $175 million spread out to cities and villages, county road commissions and state road preservation and projects.

“For the roads, it’s probably been the worst Michigan winter we’ve had in 15 to 20 years when you look at the freeze and the thaw, the freeze and the thaw," said Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt.

U.S. Marine Corps. / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

Moms and other activists against gun violence gathered at the state Capitol today.  They wanted to meet with as many lawmakers as possible.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America wants lawmakers to keep guns out of schools. In the wake of a mass school shooting in Florida, multiple lawmakers have called for school safety measures like arming teachers.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof is the sponsor of that bill. He says his legislation would help make schools safer.

Larry Nassar
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers have a plan to fight sexual assault against young people. Some of the bills could have an impact on future lawsuits against Michigan State University.

The school has come under fire recently for accusations that it ignored complaints against former MSU sports doctor, Larry Nassar. Nassar was recently sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison for sexually assaulting young women. Multiple women are currently suing the school.

Lindsey Lemke says she reported Nassar to an MSU official, but was ignored.

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

High schoolers, lawmakers, and concerned citizens held a rally at the state Capitol today. They want changes to the state’s gun laws.

The rally comes the week after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where students and staff members were killed.

Wilson X / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder will consider changing the rules that allow courts to permanently remove children from their parents.

The bills are on their way to the governor’s desk. One would prevent the state from automatically asking that a parent’s rights be terminated just because they had their rights terminated to other children.

 “It absolutely is a due process issue," said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a bill sponsor. "And it’s a protection of the poor.”

A crumbling road with a large pothole in the asphalt
Chris UK / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Lawmakers in Lansing want to put $175 million toward fixing the state’s roads. The state House passed the spending bill today.

Governor Rick Snyder initially proposed a similar spending bump for the next budget cycle. But lawmakers say the potholes and crumbling roads need to be addressed as soon as possible. They want the money available in time for construction season.

Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

A high school freshman came to the state Capitol today to advocate on behalf of sexual assault legislation.

Gianna Duva goes to Brighton High School. She was sexually assaulted by a fellow student off school grounds. Duva and her mother unsuccessfully petitioned the school board when they found out her assailant would be allowed to return to school with her after he finished his sentence. So they went to the Legislature. 

Solar panels
Michael Mazengarb / Flickr

Consumers Energy plans to become more environmentally friendly – while keeping customer bills stable.

The company rolled out its “Clean Energy Breakthrough Goal” Monday. It plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% and use zero coal by 2040. The company also plans to have more than 40% of its energy come from renewable sources and energy storage by that same deadline.

“In the past, people believed that we had to choose between affordable and clean energy,” said Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe. “We don’t subscribe to that sucker’s choice.”

The "Sparty" statue on the MSU campus
Betsy Weber / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan State University’s major governing body held its first official public meeting with interim president John Engler today.

The Board and Engler tried to keep the meeting "business as usual," although several members acknowledged calls by students and faculty to step down. 

At the end of the meeting, several students stood up with posters condemning the board and Engler.

user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

Lawmakers are considering a proposal to change how the state selects the governing bodies of three of its major universities.

Right now, 12 university governing boards are picked by the governor. Three – Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University – are elected. The measure would turn those three university boards into governor appointments.

michigan state university sign
Branislav Ondrasik / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan State University wants to change up its health systems structure. In an effort to streamline the school and increase communication among colleges, the university plans to create two new oversight positions.

Norman Beauchamp is currently the dean of the College of Human Medicine. He is expected to become the newly created associate provost and assistant vice president for health affairs. That job will be focused on finding ways to improve safety and quality practices across all of MSU’s health care services.

Convicted criminals could be required to listen to victim impact statements at sentencing. That’s if a bill continues to make its way through the state Legislature. It was voted out of a House committee today, and is waiting for a full House vote.

State Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, is a bill sponsor. She says the bill stems from the murder of a woman in Muskegon County. At his sentencing, the defendant was allowed to leave the courtroom during statements made by the victim’s family.

Belmont Tower at MSU
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The Michigan State University Faculty Senate passed a vote of no confidence in the schools’ Board of Trustees Tuesday.

Belmont Tower at MSU
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University’s Faculty Senate will hold a no confidence vote in the school’s Board of Trustees Tuesday. The vote is, in part, the result of the Board’s appointment of former governor John Engler.

teacher with student
BES Photos / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some lawmakers in Lansing want to use an A through F grading system to rate schools in some categories.

This isn’t the first time an A through F system has been considered. Lawmakers say it’s an easy way to show how schools are doing.

But recently, the state adopted a system that shows a lot of details about each public school. A new bill would keep that system but include A through F grades for some things.

Brian Love is a parent from Detroit. He says parents need an easy way to determine if a school is good for their kids.

Dan Martel raising his fist
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Former Governor John Engler spent his first day as interim president of Michigan State University dealing with campus controversy over the appointment.

It’s been one week since long-time MSU president Lou Anna Simon stepped down in the face of criticism over how the school handled complaints of sexual abuse by former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar.

The university’s board of trustees voted unanimously in favor of Engler. But both students and faculty voiced opposition to the choice. They said a politician with no academic leadership experience was not the way to go.

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