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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

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.

Michigan's 14th congressional district
Public Domain

The US District Court has ruled that Michigan's congressional and legislative maps are unconstitutionally gerrymandered, ordering the state Legislature to redraw at least 34 districts for the 2020 election.


Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Legislature held key votes on Wednesday on bills that would make various changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

The state Senate passed a series of bills that some lawmakers say will make the criminal justice system fairer for young people. The so-called “Raise the Age” legislation would automatically treat 17-year-olds as juveniles for certain crimes. Right now, they’re automatically tried as adults.

“We want to make sure our kids are not hindered because they’ve made poor decisions in their youth,” said bill sponsor Senator Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).

prison bars
Flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Lawmakers at the state Capitol have made changing the state’s criminal justice system a priority this session.

Two packages of bills are close to the governor’s desk – with crucial votes taking place earlier this week.

One bill package would raise the age for when a person is automatically considered an adult for certain crimes from age 17 to 18. Some counties have raised concerns about the costs of making the change.

Senator Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township) is a bill sponsor. He says they’re working with counties to alleviate some of their concerns.

pile of one dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The leader of the state Senate Republicans says he’s not in favor of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's call for candidates to disclose their financial information.

Last month, Benson said she wants the Legislature to pass bills that would require elected officials to disclose any outside income, investments, travel or gifts they got as candidates or after they were elected.

prison bars
Thomas Hawk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new task force will explore who is in Michigan’s jails and why they’re there. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday.

The order creates a bipartisan team to review the jail and court data collected from Michigan counties. Then the task force will use the information to look for improvements to the system and make recommendations to the Legislature.

Michigan State University
John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Former Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon has some time off from court. Simon has been charged with multiple felonies. A hearing to determine if she should stand trial will continue in June.

The state Attorney General’s office says Lou Anna Simon lied about what she knew about a 2014 complaint against former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. A judge sentenced Nassar to at least 40 years in prison for sexually assaulting his patients.

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

State lawmakers want to put in place a final deadline for medical marijuana facilities to get a license, or not be able to stay open.

A state House committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday. It gives a June 1st deadline for facilities – and if they stay open without a license, the facility can’t get a license for a year.

Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

The state Attorney General’s Office is trying to show that former Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon lied to investigators to protect the university.

Simon was in court Monday for the second day of a hearing to determine whether she should stand trial for charges that she lied to law enforcement.

Former MSU President Lou Anna Simon
File photo / MSU

The former president of Michigan State University will be back in court on Monday. Lou Anna Simon is facing multiple criminal charges – including two felonies.

Lou Anna Simon stepped down from the presidency at MSU soon after former university sports doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced for multiple sexual assault convictions.

Simon has since been charged with lying to law enforcement.

The attorney general’s office says Simon lied about what she knew about Nassar and when. The Attorney General’s office opened an investigation into MSU last year. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers in Washington DC want veterans to receive full coverage for health problems stemming from PFAS exposure.

The industrial chemicals have been discovered in sites across Michigan and the U.S., many of them military bases.

minimum wage
Adobe Stock

The state's new minimum wage and earned sick time laws take effect today. But there’s lingering controversy about how the measures made it into law.

Lawmakers adopted the ballot questions before they could go to voters – and then made significant changes before sending them to then-governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

“It’s not a true victory,” said Danielle Atkinson, a leader of the campaign to change the state’s sick time laws.” It’s not what the people of Michigan asked for, wanted or need.”

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