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
 

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.

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  The annual Mackinac Policy Conference is a gathering of thousands of politicians and business leaders at the Grand Hotel. As part of the weekly series MichMash, Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth talk with former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who’s now President of the Small Business Association of Michigan. They talk about why it’s worth paying attention to what happens at the conference each year. 

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.

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.

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.

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has vowed to veto controversial anti-abortion legislation if it reaches her desk. As part of the weekly series MichMash, Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth talk about ways these bills could become law despite Whitmer’s opposition.

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer is wielding the power of the veto pen in Lansing. This week, she exercised a line-item veto on a bill to refill the state’s fund to compensate people who were wrongfully convicted, citing her pledge to veto appropriations in policy bills. And she has threatened to veto Republican plans to overhaul Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance system.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about another bill that could soon head to Whitmer’s desk, which would regulate e-cigarettes and vaping.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Michigan Republican state lawmakers and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer appear to be headed for a possible showdown on the state budget and road funding. But as part of the weekly series MichMash, Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about one area where Democrats and Republicans seem to be coming together.

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.

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.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

A federal court in Michigan says that the state's Republican-controlled legislature unfairly drew some of Michigan's state legislative and U.S. House district lines and that a divided government will have to come up with new boundaries.

A panel of three judges said that 27 of 34 challenged districts diluted the weight of people's votes and that every challenged district is unconstitutional.

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.


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).

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Say goodbye to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The MDEQ gets a name change on Monday. It will be called the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

As part of the weekly series MichMash… Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about what that and other changes to the department mean for Michiganders.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has finished her tour of every branch office in the state. Benson says she’s working to make sure she keeps her campaign promise of guaranteeing wait times of no longer than 30 minutes.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about how long it might take before we can expect those shorter wait times at the Secretary of State’s office.

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.

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. 

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. 

Brian Charles Watson / Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan State Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments about Michigan’s minimum wage and paid sick leave laws. As part of the weekly series MichMash, Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth explain the question is whether lawmakers acted legally when they gutted those laws during last year’s lame duck session.

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