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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.

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Michigan Department of Transportation

The findings of a $100,000 study were improperly influenced by lobbyists. That’s according to a new state Auditor General report.

According to emails and documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Aggregates Association was a primary gravel lobbying firm that influenced the study.

governor gretchen whitmer standing at a podium
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

It will soon be easier to qualify for food and cash assistance in Michigan. Starting November 1, a family can have thousands of dollars more in assets – and still be eligible.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s a necessary change.

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The governor will now have to decide if the criminal justice system should stop automatically treating 17-year-olds as adults.

A bipartisan package of bills is now headed to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk. They would still give prosecutors discretion to charge 17-year-olds as adults for serious crimes, but that would no longer be the way they are automatically treated.

A courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Bills that would raise the age of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction from 17 to 18-years-old are one step closer to the governor’s desk.

This means that 17-year-olds would no longer be automatically be tried as adults or placed with adults in the criminal justice system. But prosecutors would still have discretion to charge them as adults based on the offense.

Attorney General Dana Nessel
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state Attorney General has recommendations for changes to bills on expunging criminal records. The bills are up for debate in the state Legislature.

At a Tuesday hearing in front of a House Judicial committee, Nessel said she is, overall, in support of expanding the state’s laws to set aside some crimes on a person’s criminal record.

But she had ideas that she said could improve the bills. One area of concern was a bill to automatically remove certain crimes from a person’s record after 10 years.

Changes coming for LSAT tests and blind examinees
Mikael Kristenson / Unsplash

Michigan man, Angelo Binno, filed a lawsuit against the Law School Admission Council. That’s because the council would not give him a waiver for the analytical reasoning portion of the exam.

He said it wasn’t fair for visually impaired people because the most common way to solve the problems was to draw diagrams and pictures.

Adobe Stock

You shouldn’t have to choose between paying for your medication or your mortgage. That’s the message of some Democrats in the state House. They’ve introduced a plan they’re calling HOPE – or Health Over Profits for Everyone.

Some House Democrats have introduced bills aimed at making medical care more affordable.

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

After a combative budget cycle, state lawmakers want to find common ground on policy issues.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer would like to get leaders in the state Legislature back to the table to come up with a new spending bill. One that uses the almost one billion dollars that Whitmer line-item vetoed in the budget.

But GOP lawmakers say the budget is done and it’s time to focus on policy issues.             

no gun sign on glass door
Bumble Dee / Adobe Stock

A state lawmaker says she felt “forced” by the Speaker of the House to remove a gun free zone sign from her state House office. Democratic State Representative Kara Hope (D-Holt) put up the sign last month. She says for the safety and comfort of her staff, she didn’t want any firearms in her office.

Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants Republican leaders to come to the bargaining table.

Earlier this week, Whitmer announced more than 100 line item vetoes that she made in the state budgets, and she moved money around within departments (that’s something she can do without the approval of the Legislature).

During a press conference on Wednesday, Whitmer announced that she wants to take a lot of the money that won’t be spent on the items she vetoed, and put those toward a new supplemental budget.

Adobe Stock

Starting Wednesday, Michigan vape shops will have to stop selling flavored nicotine products.

The final rules of the ban were announced two weeks ago. They were put in place by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. The state says that young people vaping has become a public health crisis.

profile shot of Gretchen Whitmer
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed $375 million in one-time road funding. The governor finished signing all 16 state budgets hours before the October 1st deadline.

Whitmer says she had to make the 147 line-item vetoes to protect Michigan residents. In a recorded statement on Instagram, Whitmer said the budgets sent to her by the Republican-controlled Legislature were “built on phony numbers, using funds in the wrong way, usurping executive power. These are important things that I had to eliminate from these budgets.”

people signing petitions
Fraitag.de / Adobe Stock

The state cannot restrict the number of signatures a ballot initiative can get from a single Congressional district.

That is part of the ruling out of the Court of Claims Friday. Several groups – including the League of Women Voters and the Republican-led state House and Senate – sued the Secretary of State, though hoping for different outcomes. This is over a law signed last year that adds restrictions to how people can get signatures for ballot initiatives.

State capitol in Lansing Michigan
Henryk Sadura / Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the budgets on their way to her desk are “a mess.”

The Legislature voted out the rest of the state budgets Tuesday, including the education and transportation budgets.

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Lawmakers at the state Capitol will start looking at bills to take certain crimes off people’s criminal records. A committee hearing on a package of bills is scheduled for Tuesday.

The goal is to expand the state’s expungement laws. That way more people could set aside criminal convictions for low level crimes or those that happened long ago.

Flint school lockers
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Republicans and Democrats in the state House have come to an agreement on the state’s K-12 education budget.

The details won’t be released until tomorrow when a committee will vote on the plan.

Adobe Stock

Plans to make Michigan a sports betting state are moving through the state Legislature. A package of bills is scheduled to be voted out of a House committee Tuesday.

The bills would create a Division of Sports Betting in the state’s Gaming Control Board. If passed, the division would create rules, license sports betting establishments and oversee organizations with sports betting licenses.

Opponents of expanding gambling in the state say it could negatively impact the state lottery, which puts money toward the state’s schools.

wood gavel in front of book
sergign / Adobe Stock

A state lawmaker wants to close a loophole in Michigan’s marital rape law. A person currently cannot be convicted of rape solely because they had sexual intercourse with their spouse, while the spouse was mentally incapacitated.

It’s an exception in the state’s marital rape laws. And Representative Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) has introduced a bill to get rid of the exception.

a sign that says "stop abortion now" and another that says "keep abortion legal"
Unsplash/Adobe Stock

Abortion has moved to the forefront of national politics. Where lawmakers stand on the issue has become a litmus test when determining if someone is a Republican or Democrat.

Snowshoeing in northern Michigan
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

There are multiple steps Michigan should take to ensure that there’s enough energy for homes and businesses if we have another polar vortex this winter.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer directed the Michigan Public Service Commission to figure out if Michigan’s energy system can handle extreme weather. This was after a cold snap across the state resulted in the shutdown of schools, businesses, and government offices.

sign at the state capitol
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

A democratic state lawmaker wants the state Capitol to reverse its ban on signs.

The Capitol currently prohibits protestors and other people from bringing signs into the building.

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Following a months-long impasse, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders have agreed to work out a budget framework without a long-term fix for the state’s roads.

“The people of Michigan deserve leadership in Lansing that will work to continue providing them with services they depend on every day,” a joint statement released Monday morning reads.

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

A state lawmaker wants to ban privately-run prisons in Michigan.

State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) says the state should not house inmates in private facilities. He has introduced a bill to ban the practice.

“Prisons are a very sensitive and difficult and solemn responsibility of the state,” says Irwin. “I think that policing for profit and the idea that our prisons should be a profit center for private industry is wrong. I think it creates all sorts of insidious incentives.”

a gas pump
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State House Minority Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) doesn’t think the governor’s proposed 45 cent fuel tax increase will ever happen.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a fellow Democrat, proposed the hike in her budget proposal back in March as a way to raise money for the roads.

Larry Inman
Inman campaign

The state House of Representatives says it’s in the best interest of the state if Representative Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) resigns. The House passed a resolution Thursday.

Inman has been in a legal battle since May. He’s federally charged with attempted extortion, solicitation of a bribe, and lying to the FBI.

podium set up for press conference
Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

Republican leaders in Lansing want to focus on the budget and possibly save a plan to fix the state’s roads for a later date.

Agustin Arbulu
Michigan Civil Rights Commission

The director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Agustin Arbulu, has been fired.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission voted to fire Arbulu during a meeting Tuesday night.

Arbulu has been under scrutiny since early August, when the commission announced that it had formally reprimanded him. An employee of the Department of Civil Rights, Todd Heywood, had reported that Arbulu made sexually charged comments about a woman outside a work event.

doctor holding stethoscope with arms crossed
Unsplash

Some lawmakers in Lansing want to take away the licenses of medical professionals who sexually assault their patients under the guise of treatment. Bills to do that and others aimed at helping victims of sexual assault passed out of a state House committee Tuesday.

Person in orange jumpsuit sitting behind prison bars
Lightfield Studios / Adobe Stock

The state Legislature plans to go back to its normal schedule this week.

Republicans in the state House plan to keep working on a budget and road funding plan they can agree on along with the Senate and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, but they’ve got other priorities too.

two moms sitting with child sitting between them
oneinchpunch / Adobe Stock

Faith based adoption and foster agencies might be allowed to keep turning away prospective parents based on their sexual orientation. That’s if a federal judge allows it while an underlying lawsuit plays out.

In March, Attorney General Dana Nessel settled a different lawsuit – the terms of the settlement prevent the state from working with agencies that discriminate based on sexual orientation.

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