Cheyna Roth | Michigan Radio
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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

Rick Snyder
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is not endorsing a candidate for governor. Attorney General Bill Schuette won his party’s nomination after Tuesday’s primary. Schuette went up against Snyder’s own Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley.

Snyder and Schuette have had a fraught relationship. Schuette is currently prosecuting several people in Snyder’s administration over the Flint Water Crisis, and Snyder backed Calley during the primary.

But now, Snyder says he’s just going to focus on being a governor.

A cow.
Amanda Kerr / Unsplash

Michigan dairy farmers are getting a $510 million boost. Two new dairy processing facilities are scheduled to be built in St. Johns, north of Lansing. The plants are expected to create more than 250 new jobs.

“This is a tremendous win for the dairy farmers in our state, for all of Michigan,” said Governor Rick Snyder, who is a fan of Michigan’s cows.

“We have the second most productive cows in the entire nation, second only to Colorado and they’re not even close in terms of number of cows,” Snyder said. “So, we have the best cows in the country.”

hand holding I VOTED sticker
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michiganders flocked to the polls Tuesday in numbers that haven’t been matched in recent decades.

hand holding I VOTED sticker
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Republican Bill Schuette and Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will battle it out for the governor’s seat in November.  Libertarians also had a choice for governor on the primary ticket, for the first time in Michigan’s history.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals will decide if the state can give money to private and parochial schools for expenses that stem from state mandates.

The court heard arguments in the lawsuit today. More than a dozen public school institutions and the ACLU are suing the state over its plans to give millions of dollars to non-public schools. In 2016 Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law that lets the state reimburse nonpublic schools for mandates like concussion training, EpiPens and background checks.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Prosecutors in Michigan say adult witnesses should be able to use emotional support dogs in courts.

Prosecutors in Ingham County have filed an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeals said allowing an able-bodied adult to testify with a dog would be an unprecedented change. They said it could only happen through legislation, court rule, or a decision from the Supreme Court.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Courtesy of Bill Schuette

A progressive watchdog group says the state attorney general has misused his office for political gain – and it has the emails to prove it.

Progress Michigan released a batch of emails Wednesday. They’re part of an ongoing lawsuit the group filed against Schuette.

michigan hall of justice building
Wikimedia Commons

An initiative to change how Michigan draws its political boundaries is headed for the November ballot.

In a 4-3 ruling late Tuesday night, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit challenging a redistricting ballot proposal.

Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed, and Shri Thanedar
Facebook/Michigan Radio

The Michigan primary is fast approaching. Democrats and Republicans will head to the polls on August 7 to decide who they want to represent their party in the November governor’s race. Three Democratic candidates hope they’ll be chosen, and money – and the television ads it buys – has played an interesting role in the Democratic race so far.

Brian Calley and Bill Schuette
michigan.gov

The Republican candidates for governor have been battling it out for months. There’s more money being spent on the Republican primary than in recent years – and it’s being used to help the candidates go after each other.


Michigan Supreme Court
Courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court will try to wrap up its cases by the time the session ends Tuesday.

The court will decide if police officers can photograph and fingerprint someone if they don’t have an ID.

This stems from a Grand Rapids Police Department policy. The ACLU says the policy disproportionately affected African Americans. The incidents in the lawsuits are from 2011 and 2014.

The police department says the photograph and fingerprint – or P and P – procedure is no longer routine.

guns in holsters on two people
Lucio Eastman - Free State Project - PorcFest 2009 / CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27373086

Michigan school districts can ban guns on school grounds. The Michigan Supreme Court announced its decision Friday.

Ann Arbor and Clio school districts have policies that prohibit firearms on school property unless the person has a concealed pistol license.

Pro-gun advocacy groups and some parents of kids at those schools filed lawsuits. They said state law prevents these types of policies.

The court says state lawmakers could prevent school districts from banning guns on their school grounds – but they haven’t. 

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Tensions were high at a Board of State Canvassers meeting over ballot initiatives to increase the state’s minimum wage and to require employers offer earned sick time.

The board was ready to decide whether to certify the proposals, but an attorney for a business group that opposes the measures told the board a technicality prevented the board from legally voting on it Thursday. So the Board went to recess without a vote until the next day.

men in suits
Cheyna Roth

About 80 survivors of former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar gathered in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

They held a press conference ahead of a Senate committee hearing about what can be done to protect amateur athletes from sexual assault.

More than 300 women say Larry Nassar sexually assaulted them over decades and MSU and other institutions failed to protect them.

Michigan Radio’s Cheyna Roth was in Washington for the hearing where interim MSU president John Engler testified.


C-Span

U.S. Senators grilled former Michigan governor John Engler about his leadership at Michigan State University. Engler is currently interim president of MSU.

The hearing was one of three so far in response to Larry Nassar, the former MSU sports doctor who sexually assaulted his patients for decades and will spend decades in prison. 

Engler came under fire during the hearing for statements he made about some survivors and recent hires at the school.

U.S. Capitol
Unsplash

Michigan State University Interim President John Engler will appear before a U.S. Senate subcommittee Tuesday.

The Michigan Supreme Court opens its 2012 session this week.
Subterranean / Flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to a proposed November ballot initiative to change who draws congressional and legislative districts every decade.

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Business-backed organizations say two initiatives waiting for approval from the Board of State Canvassers should not be on the November ballot. One would raise the state’s minimum wage. The other would require earned sick time for employees.

The challenges, in part, involve whether the petitions have enough valid signatures to be on the November ballot.

Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments this week about whether a redistricting measure can go on the November ballot. It’s the last stop for the contentious proposal.

A Republican and business-backed group called Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution disputed the proposal. They said the measure is a complete overhaul of the Constitution.

Dave Doyle is a spokesperson for the group.

“It creates in a sense, a fourth branch of government. So that’s a wholesale rewrite of the Constitution,” he says.

Beatriz Pérez Moya / Unsplash

The state Attorney General wants a judge to review every document Michigan State University says is protected by attorney-client privilege. This is part of an ongoing investigation by a special prosecutor into the university.

The investigation involves how Michigan State University handled former MSU sports doctor, Larry Nassar. Nassar will spend decades in prison for sexually assaulting his patients.

The university put together a so-called “privilege log” that lists every document it says is protected by attorney-client privilege. 

Stephen Radford / Unsplash

The ACLU of Michigan wants a federal judge to let its discrimination lawsuit against the state move forward.

The ACLU says a policy that lets faith-based child placement agencies under contract with the state withhold services for religious reasons is unconstitutional. Multiple same sex couples say they were turned away when they tried to adopt from these organizations that receive state money.

The state says there are other agencies for same-sex couples to use.

Leslie Cooper is with the ACLU of Michigan. She says the state’s argument doesn’t hold up.

graffiti saying "vote"
Flickr user H2Woah! / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

For the first time in Michigan history, Libertarian candidates for governor will be on the August primary ballot. That’s because the party got enough Michigan votes in the 2016 election to put the party on the primary ballot.

Libertarian Party of West Michigan Vice Chair, Jamie Lewis, said getting the party on the primary ballot helps people know early on that they have options besides Republicans and Democrats.

Screenshot / Off the Record / WKAR-TV

Two Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate squared off on Friday. During a debate on WKAR-TV’s Off the Record, Sandy Pensler and John James both said they were the best choice to take on incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, though the candidates mostly focused on each other – not Stabenow – during the debate.

Pensler and James sharply disagreed on the issue of capital punishment. Pensler said he’s okay with the death penalty in extreme cases. But James said it disproportionately affects the poor.

Vote Here sign
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for a lawsuit about a ballot proposal to change how Michigan draws political districts.

Voters Not Politicians is the group behind the measure, which would put a 13-member commission in charge of redistricting, instead of the state Legislature. It says the proposal meets all the requirements of a voter-initiated constitutional amendment. But a group opposed to the measure, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, disagrees. It says the proposal goes beyond what’s allowed for this type of ballot proposal.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Courtesy of Governor Snyder's office

Michigan has about 150 new laws. Governor Rick Snyder finished going through a pile of bills that were sent to him before the Legislature went on its summer break.

The new laws range from getting rid of out-of-date laws to license plates. And several bills involve how to drive. Starting in September, drivers will have to give bicyclists at least three feet of space while passing.

“This is really important to protect bicyclists and other vulnerable roadway users,” said Snyder spokeswoman, Tanya Baker.

A group trying to get a redistricting measure on the November ballot says arguments against the measure by the state Attorney General are redundant.

Schuette submitted a brief to the Michigan Supreme Court – it’s currently deciding if it will look at a court case filed by a group that wants to keep the proposal off the ballot. This comes after a 3-0 decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals that ordered the state’s election committee to send the proposal to the ballot.

Fancycrave / Unsplash

Michigan will put $100 million toward skilled trades training and career exploration. Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation into law Tuesday.

State Senator Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, is a bill sponsor. He said the state has a shortage of people in the skilled trades workforce. That’s because for a long time there was an emphasis on getting a college degree.

“Not everybody is ganna be a four-year degree student and not everybody can work with their hands and this is for the folks that wanna work with their hands also,” Hansen said.

pills
DenisenFamily / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Democrats in the state House want to get rid of a law they say protects drug companies that knowingly make or sell harmful drugs.

They introduced bills that would repeal a law that gives drug companies immunity from lawsuits. That law grants immunity over drugs that have been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Bill sponsor, Representative Brian Elder, D-Bay City, said if a drug is later recalled or showed to be harmful, the current law means people can’t sue – and that is not OK.

Teal pinwheels adorn the lawn outside the Hannah Administration Building where the Board of Trustees meeting took place. Teal is the color of sexual assault survivors.
Cheyna Roth

Michigan State University will issue a bond to pay for a $500 million legal settlement. The school’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of the move Friday at a meeting.

Engler kicked off the meeting by reiterating his apology for emails that were made public last week. In them, Engler tells an aide that a Larry Nassar survivor might be getting a “kickback” by trial lawyers. Nassar is the former Michigan State University spokesperson who sexually assaulted his patients for years.

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

Gov. Rick Snyder signed the state’s general fund spending plan for fiscal year 2019 Thursday, and it includes a provision he says his administration won’t enforce.

That measure would cut funding to Planned Parenthood. It requires county health departments to favor family planning clinics that don’t offer abortions. 

Snyder said that provision is unconstitutional because there is a separate law that says how family planning money is distributed. It's already illegal in Michigan for public money to be directly used for abortions.

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