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State Senate returns with little to report, budget talks ongoing

The state Senate was back in Lansing Tuesday. Lawmakers mostly met in private and did not vote on any bills. They say they are still working on coming up with a state budget and roads plan. The budget is due by midnight on September 30.

Republican Senator Wayne Schmidt is chair of the Senate Appropriations Transportation subcommittee. He says part of the hold up is that for the first time in eight years there’s bipartisan government. Republican leadership in the House and Senate, and a Democrat in the governor’s office.

“It’s going to take some time. It’s not quite as easy as it has been the last eight years, but we’ve had a little change in the front office and we have to adapt to it,” Schmidt said.

Another major hangup is a roads plan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she wants the budget to include more than $2 billion for the state’s crumbling roads.

Lawmakers introduced more than 60 bills on topics like environmental protection, electric vehicle charging stations at state parks, and increasing penalties for embezzling from vulnerable adults.

Lawmakers haven’t gone to session since June, but both chambers plan to meet next week.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the 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. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R