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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

close up of rainbow colored flag
Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the state Civil Rights Commission is not bound by her predecessor's determination that LGBTQ people are not protected by an anti-discrimination law. 

Over one thousand protesters gathered on the Capitol lawn Tuesday.
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan’s education advocates need to put pressure on state lawmakers. That’s in order to make sure schools are properly funded.

Whitmer joined more than one thousand education advocates that were protesting on the Capitol lawn Tuesday. The state school aid budget is still being worked out by lawmakers in the state Legislature. But protesters at the Capitol want to make sure that the final product has enough money for K-12 schools.

Trump supporters holding signs at a "Squash Amash" rally
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Dozens of President Donald Trump supporters gathered for what they called a “Squash Amash” rally Friday. Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash has been under fire from his own party. 

Protestor holding up a sign that says "Safe Water" at a Flint Water Crisis protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After three years, the criminal probe into the Flint water crisis is back to square one.

The Flint Water Crisis prosecution team, working under the aegis of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, has dismissed without prejudice all pending criminal cases brought by the former Office of Special Counsel.

State capitol in Lansing Michigan
Henryk Sadura / Adobe Stock

Some Michigan lawmakers are trying – once again – to pass legislation that would require elected officials to file financial disclosures. It’s an issue that lawmakers have been trying to get past the finish line for decades.

William Strampel
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A jury has found a former Michigan State University dean guilty of a felony and two misdemeanors. William Strampel was dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine for more than a decade. The jury found that he used his position to try and get sexual favors from female students.

William Strampel
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Shayan Sanyal / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state department in charge of Michigan’s prisons is not happy with a proposed spending plan in the state Legislature.

A spending plan for the Michigan Department of Corrections passed out of a state House committee. It would redirect millions of dollars that previous budgets had allocated for certain projects – like prison maintenance – to other priorities.

Cracked and broken roads
nirbhao / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Republican lawmakers are trying to find ways to raise more money for the roads. But they want to avoid Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 45-cent fuel tax increase.

A new idea to raise money to fix the state’s roads involves selling state assets to pay for the infrastructure.

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Republican leadership in the state House and Senate has filed a challenge to a recent opinion by Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The law in question makes it more difficult to put a measure on the state’s ballot. The law was enacted during a hectic lame duck session last year.

In May, Nessel issued a formal opinion that said that portions of the law were unconstitutional – in particular, a portion that limits the number of signatures a measure can have from a given geographic area.

Woman getting ultrasound
Alexander Raths / Adobe Stock

Some Republicans in the state Senate have introduced bills (SB 357 & SB 358) that would drastically limit when a woman can get an abortion.

vaping
Pixabay

Minors in Michigan soon won’t be able to vape. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bills into law Tuesday. They ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors – currently a federal law. And they ban the use of e-cigarettes by minors.

Schools across the state have called minors vaping an “epidemic.”

Democratic Representative Jon Hoadley (left) and Democratic Senator Jeremy Moss (right) are bill sponsors.
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Some lawmakers have been trying for decades to expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. New bills would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the act. That would mean that people could not be denied housing or be fired simply because they are LGBTQ.

Supporters say they think this will be the year the protections cross the finish line. Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said LGBTQ people now have a friend in the governor’s office and more Republicans are on board with the proposal than before.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will start discussions this week about whether they – and other elected officials – should have to produce personal financial disclosures.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That’s a nonpartisan watchdog organization that follows money in politics.

Mauger says bills up for debate in a state House committee on Wednesday would help the public get a better sense of who their lawmakers are, and see potential conflicts of interest.

William Strampel
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The trial of the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University began on Thursday. William Strampel is charged with not properly overseeing Larry Nassar after an internal investigation. Nassar is the former sports doctor who sexually assaulted his patients for decades.

Larry Inman
Inman campaign

Representative Larry Inman (R-Traverse City) pleaded not guilty to multiple federal charges Tuesday. Inman appeared in court for the first time for charges of attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe, and lying to the FBI.

Inman was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month.

people collecting signatures
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update: Thursday, May 23, 5:25 p.m.

The future of a ballot-signature law passed last year is unclear.  On Wednesday, Attorney General Dana Nessel said that parts of the law that adds requirements to the ballot signature process are unconstitutional. Now Republican lawmakers and others are working on their next steps.

narcan kit
zamboni-man / FLICKR - https://flic.kr/p/mjCzqS

Three bills that would allow people such as librarians and teachers to administer treatments for opioid overdoses are being considered in Michigan's state Senate. They are Sen. Paul Wojno's Senate Bill 200, Sen. Curtis Vanderwall's Senate Bill 282, and Peter Lucido's Senate Bill 283.

Woman getting ultrasound
Alexander Raths / Adobe Stock

A Michigan group is launching a ballot drive to ban abortions after a fetus's heartbeat is detected, with exceptions to protect a pregnant woman's life or health.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Congressman Justin Amash is facing a likely primary for his seat. State Representative Jim Lower (R-Greenville) says he will challenge Amash for the Republican spot on the 2020 ticket.

This comes after Amash said on Twitter over the weekend that Trump has engaged in "impeachable conduct."

Joel Freeman is chair of the Kent County Republican Party. He says Amash and Trump have been elected on the same ticket before, but he’s not sure if that’s possible again in the future.

Vaping accesories
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

 

The fruity smell associated with vape pens is a new normal in schools across Michigan, including Belding High School, east of Grand Rapids. That’s despite it being banned by its administration.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

Some lawmakers in Lansing say they have a plan to protect elderly people in the state. A bipartisan bill package (HB 4254-4260 and HB 4265) is expected to be voted out of a House committee this week.

The legislation is focused on protecting elderly and vulnerable adults from physical and financial abuse. Some bills would create new laws that would provide increased penalties for assaulting an elderly person.

State Representative Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) is a bill sponsor. She says people’s livelihoods and peace of mind are at stake.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Controversial bills to ban a certain type of abortion procedure are scheduled for a state House committee hearing next week.

The bills (HB 4320 and 4321) would ban the “dilation and evacuation” or D-and-E procedure. The legislation has been moving steadily through the state House. That’s despite a likely veto by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Representative Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) is a bill sponsor. She said during a hearing that the state should ban the “dilation and evacuation” or D-and-E procedure because she says it’s barbaric.

winter school bus
Pixabay

Michigan students are a signature away from getting four snow days forgiven after a brutal winter left some schools closed for weeks. The state Senate sent the bill to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk Thursday.

This comes after a dust-up between Republicans and Democrats on details of the bill. Earlier this week, Democrats prevented the bill from getting immediate effect – which would have effectively killed the bill.

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

A controversial provision in a budget bill (SB 135) would penalize communities with sanctuary city policies. A state Senate committee passed its version of the Michigan Department of Corrections budget on Wednesday.

The budget includes a provision that would penalize communities with policies that prevent law enforcement from cooperating with federal officials on immigration issues. They would lose a jail reimbursement.

U.S. Supreme Court
Pixabay

Last week, a federal court ruled that Michigan's Republican lawmakers had unconstitutionally drawn district lines. Now, those lawmakers have appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its decision, the U.S. District Court said Republicans had violated the First and Fourth Amendments by unconstitutionally drawing district lines to favor their party. The Court ordered the Legislature and governor to work together to redraw at least 34 districts for the 2020 election.

Snowshoeing in northern Michigan
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan students may not get any additional snow days forgiven this year.

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that would have forgiven four state declared emergency snow days. But after that vote, several Democrats voted to not give the bill immediate effect. It’s a procedural move which renders the bill useless because it would not take effect until well after the school year has ended.

Picture of the Lansing capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Action on the state’s budget is expected to pick up this week.

The state Senate Appropriations committee will consider and possibly vote on multiple budgets – including for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Those budgets moving through the Senate include large cuts to what Governor Gretchen Whitmer recommended in her proposed budget. 

Amber McCann is a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

“It was strictly to put those discretionary dollars that we have at our disposal toward things, for instance, like accelerating road funding,” says McCann.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some members of law enforcement hope Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoes legislation headed for her desk.

The Legislature passed bills to change the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws on Thursday. The bills would require a criminal conviction before law enforcement can keep a person’s property worth less than $50,000. Law enforcement only needs probable cause in order to take it.

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

More money could be added to the state’s wrongful conviction fund. Lawmakers sent a bill to add $10 million to the fund to the governor’s desk on Thursday.

The money set aside for people who were wrongfully convicted is almost gone.

State Representative Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) is a bill sponsor.

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