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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

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.

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.”

Prison fence barbed wire
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.

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