Cheyna Roth


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
 

Wolves are on the federal endangered species list. If they are ever taken off the list, the legislation would allow them to be hunted. 

Two years ago, voters rejected wolf hunting in a statewide referendum. Another effort to allow wolf hunting was struck down in court.

With only two days left on the schedule, Republican leaders have added a surprise piece of legislation to their to-do list.

Some major changes to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance could be voted on before the end of the session if Republican leaders have their way.

Republican leaders have restarted discussions on legislation to limit benefits under Michigan’s no fault law. The legislation would scale back the medical benefits provided to those who suffer catastrophic injuries in automobile wrecks.

In his office in downtown Grand Rapids, Kent County prosecutor Bill Forsyth has stacks of boxes up against a long wall. They’re labeled and stuffed with transcripts, police reports, autopsy reports. 

“That’s about half of what I had when we started,” he said, motioning toward them. 

About a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said states had to review the cases of juvenile lifers who were sentenced before automatic life was declared unconstitutional. The court said automatically sentencing juveniles to life without parole was cruel and unusual punishment. 

The presidential election recount in Michigan may be over, but state election officials aren't done yet. They are  planning an audit of about 20 Detroit polling places.

During the short-lived recount, the Michigan Bureau of Elections discovered a number of places where the number of ballots in the recount containers didn’t match the reported number of voters.

Now about 20 polling places in the city will be audited. 

Wolf hunting is back on the agenda for Michigan’s legislature. The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would legalize wolf hunting in Michigan, if the animal is taken off the federal endangered species list.

Similar legislation was struck down by voters in the past. But Senator Tom Casperson said those statewide votes don’t really reflect the needs of those dealing with wolves in their backyard.

Police officers, fire fighters, and other municipal employees are planning what they are titling a “call to action” Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Lawmakers are holding a second hearing on a series of bills that would cut health benefits for municipal retirees like police officers and fire fighters. The bills would aggressively scale back retiree health benefits in cities with high unfunded liability costs. 

Changes could be coming for how retailers handle the use of plastic bags. That’s if Governor Rick Snyder signs a bill that won final approval in the legislature Thursday.

The bill would prevent cities from instituting fees or banning plastic bags and other containers at stores in Michigan.

Lawmakers in favor of the legislation argue that having a statewide ban prevents a confusing array of laws from city to city.

Stricter voting identification bills are on their way to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation passed through the House Elections committee Thursday.

The bills would require voters to prove their identity within 10 days of casting a provisional ballot if they don’t have a photo ID with them at the polls.

Democratic Representative Jeff Irwin is on the House Elections committee. He said the legislation disenfranchises voters, particularly the disabled and impoverished.

Changes to Michigan’s voter identification laws might go through in the legislature’s lame duck session. A House committee heard testimony on the bills Wednesday.

The bills would require voters to prove their identity within 10 days of voting if they do not have a photo ID on them at the polls.

The legislation comes in the wake of a state-wide recount and an election filled with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Public school teachers could see changes to their retirement plans. That’s under changes getting pushed through in the state legislature’s lame duck session.

The bills were passed through the Senate Appropriations committee Wednesday by a narrow nine votes to eight. The committee met for several hours taking testimony and engaging in sometimes heated debate.

The current system is a combination pension and 401(k), but the legislation would put all new teachers under just a 401(k) plan.

A former USA Gymnastics doctor and Michigan State University professor has been charged with criminal sexual assault. Dr. Larry Nassar was arraigned today Tuesday on three counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the first degree for allegedly abusing a girl under 13 years old. If convicted, Nassar faces up to life in prison. 

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office is prosecuting the case with the Michigan State Police Department handling the investigation. 

Lawmakers are working to help schools with the recent hike in the cost of EpiPens.

In 2013, a new law required schools to have two auto-injectors of epinephrine on site at all times. Epinephrine is the drug used to treat a variety of allergic reactions.

The newly introduced bill would allow schools to get a prescription for epinephrine and give out the drug with a syringe by a trained staff member.

Michigan’s state flag might be getting a new design.

A bill proposed by state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, allows for a new flag design and creates a commission to hold a redesign contest. The contest winner’s design would still have to be approved by the Legislature, but Bieda says no taxpayer money would be involved because the judges would not be paid.

In an interview with Gongwer, Bieda said he drafted the bill because it was, “A nice way to promote the state, and promote arts and sciences and design in the state of Michigan.”

The election is over and now it’s time to plan for the next session.  That was the feeling as Republicans and Democrats chose party leaders two days after the election.

The House Republicans chose Tom Leonard for House Speaker.

Speaker-elect Leonard says he has three main issues he hopes to address next year. Mental health reform, improving skilled trades, and addressing long-term debt and liabilities. Leonard says he is ready to corral the 63-member majority.

Republicans have hung onto their majority in the state House. Meanwhile Democrats are planning a change of leadership for next year.

President-elect Donald Trump’s surprise victory trickled down to the House Republicans. The House kept its Republican majority by the same numbers and puts them in a more relaxed position going into the Lame Duck session.

But the Democrats are getting a bit of a shake-up. House Minority Leader Tim Greimel announced he is not running to lead his caucus for the 2017-2018 session. This leaves a leadership hole in the minority party. 

Michigan is getting battleground state attention from the presidential campaigns. Republican nominee Donald Trump paid a visit to Macomb County, and former President Bill Clinton toured the state to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The election is days away, and Michigan is still getting quite a bit of attention from both major party presidential candidates.

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence was in the Kalamazoo area with Texas Senator Ted Cruz to stump for presidential nominee Donald Trump. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been leading in the state polls, but her lead has shrunk recently.

During his speech, Pence encouraged Michiganders to vote.

Michigan non-profits are looking into an innovative way of fighting human trafficking. The idea is to take advantage of free advertising on Google.

Google offers ten thousand dollars in free ads to non-profit organizations. The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission and a state police task force are working on gathering as many non-profits as possible to apply for the advertising with one goal in mind: Deter people who search for paid sex from following through.

A federal judge in New Jersey is asking the Michigan Republican Party to explain its Election Day anti-fraud plan.

Donald Trump spent part of his Halloween in Michigan. The Republican presidential candidate held rallies in Grand Rapids and the battleground area of Macomb County.

While recent polls still show Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with a lead in Michigan, support and enthusiasm were high at the rally. Laurie Sanger got into the Halloween spirit by coming to the rally in costume. She wore an orange “jumpsuit” with Clinton’s name on the back and handcuffs on her wrist.

“I expected more Hillarys here,” Sanger said. “I didn’t know I’d be the only one.”

Senator Tim Kaine was in Detroit today. The running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at the non-profit Focus: HOPE.

Kaine’s speech was mostly focused on Clinton’s plans for the economy and working to end poverty.

Part of Clinton and Kaine’s plan, he says, is to increase skilled and technical jobs. Kaine says it is especially important in places like Detroit.

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