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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

Renew Michigan’s Environment proposal Infographic
Office of Governor Rick Snyder / Office of Governor Rick Snyder

Governor Rick Snyder wants to increase the cost of dumping waste in the state’s landfills. This is part of the governor’s proposal to improve Michigan’s environment.

Snyder proposal calls for a hike in the current landfill dumping fee from 36 cents per ton to $4.75 per ton.

“One of the things that Michigan is a great value at, that we’re one of the most attractive places in the world, is to dump your trash,” Snyder said during a speech announcing the plan. “That’s not a contest I’m aspiring to win.”

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced that a prison in Muskegon Heights will close in March.

Nearly 175 people work at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility. The Michigan Department of Corrections says it plans to do what it can to ensure that all employees have a job when the prison closes.

The main reason for the closure is because the state’s prison population is down, according to The Michigan Department of Corrections.

Chris Gautz, a spokesperson for MDOC said the closure shows the state’s correctional system is working.

Flickr User Justin Marty / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder kicked off his week of daily announcements Monday with a focus on broadband internet access. During the State of the State, Snyder said he would make a new announcement about infrastructure and the environment every day this week.

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon
Michigan State University

The State House of Representatives wants MSU President Lou Anna Simon to resign or be fired by the school.

The House of Representatives adopted a resolution today. The MSU president has come under fire recently, after multiple women said they complained to school officials about sexual assault by an MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar, but were ignored.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard voted in favor of the resolution. He says MSU’s reputation has been tarnished.

“We are never going to begin the healing process until she is gone,” Leonard said.

Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Thousands of people flooded the state Capitol lawn today to participate in the second-annual Women’s March.

Last year’s rally theme was mostly resistance against the new Donald Trump presidency. This year, the focus was on voting and running for office.

MSU board announces its support of MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees held a closed door meeting Friday (Jan. 19). They looked at the school’s response to the Larry Nassar case.

Some Michigan lawmakers have been calling for the resignation of MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. This was a developing story. We added updates as they came in.

Michigan State Capitol Building
Phillip Hofmeister / Wikimedia Commons

The state House narrowly passed a charter school bill Thursday. It would let charter schools qualify for countywide tax millage dollars. That’s money that previously has gone to traditional public schools. The Senate bill has been waiting for a full House vote since last year.

Representative Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw, chairs the House Education Reform committee. He said all students should be treated equally.

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

The state Legislature went over the governor’s head Wednesday. It approved a veto override – something that hasn’t happened in Michigan since 2002.

The bills speed up the phase-out of the sales tax on the value of a trade-in when buying a new vehicle. Governor Rick Snyder vetoed them last year because of budget concerns. But Speaker of the House Tom Leonard says he’s not worried about the budget. 

 

“Since I’ve been here it seems like, that we’ve continued to put the state’s budget over the individual budgets of each of our hardworking citizens,” he said.

Wikimedia Commons

Some DTE Energy customers say the utility is bullying them for refusing smart meters, and they want the state Legislature to do something about it.

A state House committee heard testimony Tuesday about complaints that DTE wrongly shut off their power. Most of them say it’s because they didn’t want to use a smart meter.

Jamie Chimner of Cheboygan said her power was recently cut off by DTE. She said it was because she didn’t want a smart meter on her house.

Money
Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

The state got an idea Thursday of how much money it could have for the next couple years.

Economists gathered for the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference Thursday. Michigan won’t see a big economic rebound in the upcoming years. Economists told lawmakers it’s more like a slow crawl.

Gabriel Ehrlich is an economic forecaster at the University of Michigan. He predicts – barring any unforeseen national problems – Michigan’s economy will continue to steadily improve. That includes a rise in incomes.

Michigan parents now have a new tool to vet their child’s school.

The state launched the Parent Dashboard for School Transparency today. It’s an online site with information about public schools in Michigan. The data include things like test results and student to teacher ratios. Parents can use the information to see how their kid’s school is doing and to compare it to other schools across the state.

But state Board of Education co-president, Richard Zeile said the dashboard isn’t just useful to parents.

farm field
Julie Falk / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says getting high speed internet to rural communities in Michigan is a priority for her.

Stabenow said she plans to tackle this issue as part of the new federal farm bill.

“If we want to truly expand, create jobs all over Michigan, and the quality of life that we want in small towns as well as big cities, you have to have high speed internet,” she said.

A photo of Bob Young from his campaign's facebook page
Bob Young Jr. / Facebook

The 2018 U.S. Senate race got a shake-up Wednesday, but not because someone was entering the race. Instead, the shake-up came from Republican Bob Young's decision to step down as a candidate. 

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

Legislation prompted by potential payouts related to former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar is scheduled to be introduced next month. Lawmakers in Lansing want to prevent schools and colleges from using tax dollars to pay for legal settlements in sexual misconduct cases.

“The dollars that we as taxpayers pay should be used to better institutions, to better higher education, not to pay out for lawsuits and settlements," said state Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Twp., who is drafting the legislation.

Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Bills aimed at reducing the availability of opioids were signed into law today.

The new laws, among other things, require doctors to check an opioid registry before prescribing certain opioids. This is aimed at preventing people from so-called “doctor shopping."

Doctors had originally expressed reservations about having to use the registry so frequently. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley says lawmakers waited until the system was faster and more up to date before requiring its use.

Bagogames / Flickr

Internet gambling would be regulated under bills recently voted out of a state House committee.

The legislation would let casinos and tribal casinos get licenses from a state agency for online gaming. The casinos could then use approved software that does things like determine user age and look for addictive behaviors.

Yumi Kimura / Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Supreme Court says judges have to actually see evidence that a victim has been traumatized if they want to cite trauma as a reason for a longer sentence.

Anthony White pleaded guilty to armed robbery and breaking and entering. That was after he robbed a gas station and at one point held a gun to the victim’s head.

The trial judge increased White’s sentence because he assumed psychological trauma to the victim. The defendant also admitted that the victim was afraid she would be shot.

Michigan's 14th congressional district
Public Domain

The Michigan League of Women voters is taking on the state. It says Michigan's legislative districts as currently drawn are unfair. It accuses the state and Republican controlled Legislature of drawing the district lines in secret back in 2011, then rushing the electoral map through the legislative process.

The lawsuit asks a court to declare the current electoral map unconstitutional. It also asks the court to require the state to redraw the lines fairly.

Cheyna Roth / Michigan Public Radio Network

The call to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 continues.

That’s the pipeline that carries oil and natural gas liquid under the Straits of Mackinac.

Protestors gathered outside the State Capitol today. They marched to the governor’s office and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office. Once there, they delivered over 25,000 comments calling for the line to be shut down.

Jones squats near nativity display
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Mornings In Michigan is our new series about morning rituals from across the state. Most days Republican State Senator Rick Jones gets up at 5:30 a.m. to have coffee with people in his district, but for a week before Christmas, he changes up that routine.

Michigan Radio’s Cheyna Roth tagged along as Jones continued his annual tradition of setting up a nativity display outside the state Capitol building in Lansing.

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

A new veterans’ home may not go in Detroit as originally planned.

State lawmakers OK’d a bill Wednesday that says the new home can go in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties. If the state still can’t find a place within 45 days, then it can look in the greater southeast Michigan area. The measure was part of a larger funding bill that included funding to address a chemical that has cropped up in groundwater around the state.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Rick Snyder has a stack of bills aimed at combating the opioid crisis headed to his desk. Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed bipartisan legislation Wednesday. A major goal is limiting the amount of opioids available to people who don’t need them.

 

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI.
From Goole map provided by Wolverine Worldwide

Money might be on the way to help fight perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in Michigan.

 

PFAS is a family of chemicals that’s been discovered in groundwater in 14 communities, and 28 sites, across the state. PFAS chemicals are used in things like flame retardants, cleaning products and food packaging.

 

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

The Legislature has sent Governor Rick Snyder a set of local retirement bills that passed by wide margins once they were stripped of controversial provisions.

The bills stalled last week as local governments and public employee unions protested measures that would give the state sweeping authority over local budgets. 

Those were taken out, and now local governments will have their retirement plans assessed by the state Treasury, says state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Democratic lawmakers are trying once again to repeal the state’s “Right to Work” law.

Five years ago, a Republican-led Legislature made Right to Work the law of the state. It prohibits contracts that make union membership a condition of employment.

Democrats say letting people opt out of unions gives them a free ride to the benefits of the union.

Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, is a bill sponsor. He said strong unions are important to Michigan, but Right to Work diminishes the power of unions and reduces the number of members.

screenshot from Enbridge report to the state

Members of a pipeline advisory board are criticizing a deal Governor Snyder struck with the energy company Enbridge. They are calling for the line to be temporarily shut down.

The Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, created by a governor’s executive order, met Monday. Some members raised concerns over Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, and the agreement the governor made with the company after the line showed wear on the decades-old protective coating.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
User alkruse24 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When it comes to paying for special education, Michigan comes up short. By about $700 million. That’s according to a new report released Wednesday by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.      

Calley previously instructed a subcommittee on the Special Education Reform Task Force to explore the funding needs for special education. 

marijuana bud
Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

A proposal to legalize marijuana in Michigan overcame a critical hurdle Monday. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol turned in more than 360,000 signatures to the Board of State Canvassers. Now they need to get enough signatures approved so it can go on the 2018 ballot.

So far, the measure hasn’t run into strong opposition. But Josh Hovey, who is with the coalition, says the lack of opposition right now doesn’t mean they can skimp on fundraising.

“Most successful ballot initiatives need to raise a total of about $8 million,” he said. “You know, we’ve raised about a million so far, spent about a million. We need to keep on raising money and do what we need to do to communicate to voters all across the state and that doesn’t come cheap.”

State Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren.
bieda.senatedems.com

A teen was recently attacked in Muskegon County. Officials say it’s because he’s gay. Now prosecutors and lawmakers are calling on the legislature to expand the state’s hate crimes law.

A 17-year old boy was stripped of his clothes and assaulted. The evidence was clear to Muskegon County prosecutor D.J. Hilson – The teen was attacked because he was gay. But when he looked at the statute, he couldn’t charge the case as hate crime, which comes with increased penalties.

Hilson says it’s time for the Legislature to protect all citizens.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Some of the state’s major education entities can’t come to a consensus about recent gun legislation.

The bills would, among other things, let people who get a special license carry a concealed weapon into schools.

Brian Whiston is the state superintendent. He says the Department of Education is okay with the bills, but says they need to get rid of the requirement that all schools allow concealed carry.

“In some communities it’s kind of natural," he said. "In some communities it’s not. By allowing the local districts to opt in and out is something we would support.”

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