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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

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.

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

The Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit claiming the state wrongfully accused thousands of people of unemployment fraud.  

In 2013, the state started using an automated system to flag fraud cases. But the system wrongly identified tens of thousands of people – and some of them sued to get their money back, plus fees and interest.

But the court says they waited too long to file the lawsuit.

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

Democratic lawmakers in Lansing have rolled out bills to give a stronger advantage to Michigan companies bidding to do business with the state.

One bill would do give a preference to Michigan-based businesses that bid on state contracts. Another would let Michigan companies get a second chance if they are underbid by an out-of-state firm.

State Senator Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, is a bill sponsor. He says other states have similar preference laws.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state officially has a spending plan for 2018. Governor Rick Snyder signed a $56.5 billion budget Friday.

Typically the governor wants the budget signed by July 1 of every year. But things got a little bumpy this time.

The governor was even kicked out of negotiations for a little while. But state Senate Appropriations Chair Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, said eventually differences got settled.

“Glad to see this one got done because it was a little bit more of a challenge than in the past. But we got it done,” he said.

Michigan is facing a teacher shortage.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law controversial changes to the state’s public school employee retirement system.

Starting in February of 2018, new teachers will get a new choice about their retirement savings. They’ll automatically be put into a straight 401(k) plan. But they can enroll in a hybrid plan if they want. That hybrid plan also includes a pension, but it’s more expensive for the teacher. 

Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair says 401(k)s are the way of the future.

morguefile user Penywise / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State lawmakers passed legislation to give big tax incentives to a handful of large employers Wednesday. 

The bills would let approved companies keep all or part of the state income taxes withheld from their employees’ paychecks. The companies would have to meet job-creation targets and pay their workers average or above-average wages. 

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

The state House meets tomorrow, and Governor Rick Snyder hopes lawmakers will vote on a controversial set of business incentives.

Governor Snyder is trying to salvage an incentive deal that he says could mean thousands of jobs for Michigan. He met Tuesday with state House Speaker Tom Leonard and several other Republican House members.

This is the first face-to-face meeting between Snyder and Leonard since the Speaker abruptly canceled a vote on the incentive three weeks ago.

Elissa Slotkin, in blue short holding a microphone, stands in front of a red-and-white striped background.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

The 2018 election is still a ways away. But that hasn’t stopped plenty of hopeful candidates from throwing their hats in the ring.

In a downtown Lansing brew pub, a Democrat with eyes on Michigan’s 8th Congressional District announced her candidacy Monday.

Elissa Slotkin hopes to unseat Republican Mike Bishop. Bishop is expected to run for a third term.

Slotkin said she wants to focus on solutions and a clear plan.

 

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

The Michigan Supreme Court increased the punishment for a judge who committed sexual harassment.

The Judicial Tenure Commission gave Judge Gregg Iddings a 60-day suspension without pay for sexually harassing his judicial secretary.

The Supreme Court says that’s not enough. It boosted Iddings’ suspension to six months. Iddings will also have to see a counselor for a year.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The use of Native American logos and images for school mascots is once again in the spotlight.

On Thursday the Michigan Attorney General weighed in on whether the State Superintendent can withhold money from schools that refuse to change their mascots.

In the opinion, Schuette says there’s no rule or portion of the school code that lets the Superintendent keep money from schools as a penalty for their mascot.  

Last February, the State Superintendent asked Schuette to weigh in on the issue.

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

New public meetings began Thursday about the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

Several state agencies and the authors of a report suggesting alternatives to the pipeline gave a presentation and took questions. 

The pipeline sends oil and natural gas across sections of lower and upper Michigan, and runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

A report created by Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. was released earlier this week. It gives six options for dealing with the decades-old pipeline.

A man holding a firefighter boot and waving down cars for donations
Senior Airman John D. Partlow / U.S. Air Force

Charities might once again be able to tap on your car window to ask for a donation.

The practice was wiped out last August. That’s because the state attorney general issued an opinion saying it was illegal.  

Wednesday lawmakers in the state Senate passed a bill to legalize charitable solicitations at intersections.

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

A new state medical marijuana licensing board met for the first time Monday.

The meeting was mainly for the board to hear public comment about how the new medical marijuana program should operate. It won’t start issuing licenses until next year.

John Kroneck came to the meeting to represent Michigan Prevention Association. That group is concerned about potential consequences of expanding the medical marijuana system.

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
department of education / 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.

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