Cheyna Roth

Capital 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

State lawmakers have a plan to encourage Michiganders to produce their own clean, renewable energy. A bipartisan group introduced a package of bills Tuesday.

Some of the bills focus on removing barriers to net metering. Net metering lets people who produce their own renewable energy – like solar – get hooked up to the public-utility power grid. They can use the power they make at any time, plus they can essentially sell the energy they don’t use to the utility.

People who want a license to grow or sell medical marijuana in Michigan have yet more uncertainty to deal with when it comes to getting licensed.

 

The state says it can improve low student test scores and get more kids into skilled trades.

The so-called “nation’s report card” came out Tuesday. It ranks Michigan near the bottom third in areas like 4th grade reading and math and 8th grade reading. Michigan has made little progress over the years in improving student scores.

Lawmakers says there’s no doubt that Michigan State University failed to protect its students from Larry Nassar. He’s the former MSU sports doctor who sexually assaulted patients for years under the guise of treatment.

A state House inquiry into the school released its findings Thursday.

Lawmakers say Nassar was able to exploit multiple loopholes in MSU’s policies. The House inquiry also found that the school botched an internal investigation into Nassar arising from a complaint about his “treatment” in 2014.

A major firearms case will be debated in front of the Michigan Supreme Court next week. But advocates on both sides say it’s about more than whether someone can carry a firearm on school grounds.

Ann Arbor and Clio school districts in Michigan got sued for banning guns on school grounds.

State law generally prevents local gun rules – and the court will decide whether that applies here- which could have a broader impact.

Lindsey Smith/Michigan Radio

The Michigan DEQ has approved a permit from Nestle Waters North America to increase the amount of groundwater it pumps from its well near Evart, Michigan.

The state says Nestle has to complete a monitoring plan and submit it to the DEQ for approval. After that happens, Nestle will be authorized to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from its White Pine Springs well.

The fallout from the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University continues. Nassar’s boss and former Dean of MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel, was arrested late Monday and arraigned Tuesday on felony and misdemeanor charges.

The state Legislature began discussions Wednesday on the newest plan to make people work for Medicaid.

 

The bill would require able-bodied adults to perform an average of 30-hours of work, job training, or education every week. Pregnant adults, people with medical disabilities, and others would not be included.

 

An effective food system in the state’s prisons should go beyond just feeding prisoners. That’s the message of some lawmakers in the state Senate.

The governor announced he wants to end privatized food service in the state’s prisons. Senator John Proos (R-St. Joseph) said this is an opportunity to go a step further. He’s put together a work group to explore training inmates in food services. Proos said there are thousands of available jobs across the state in the restaurant industry.

Abdul El-Sayed for Michigan

In the race for Michigan’s next governor, a Democrat crossed a significant hurdle today. Abdul El-Sayed was the first Democrat to file his signatures to get on the ballot.

But there have been questions about whether El-Sayed is even eligible to run. Bridge Magazine first reported that his voting history could derail his campaign. 

High schoolers, lawmakers, and concerned citizens held a rally at the state Capitol Thursday for changes to the state’s gun laws.

The rally comes the week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and staff members were killed.

Participants called for a ban on assault rifles, stricter background checks before buying a gun, and more money for mental health services. But most of all, the high school students at the rally want to feel safe in their schools.

Lawmakers in Lansing want to put 175 million dollars toward the state’s roads. The state House passed the spending bill Wednesday.

Governor Rick Snyder initially proposed a similar spending bump for the next budget cycle. But lawmakers say the potholes and crumbling roads need to be addressed as soon as possible. They want the money available in time for construction season.

A high school freshman came to the state Capitol Tuesday to advocate on behalf of sexual assault legislation.

Gianna Duva goes to Brighton High School. She was sexually assaulted by a fellow student off school grounds. Duva and her mother unsuccessfully petitioned the school board when they found out her assailant would be allowed to return to school with her after he finished his sentence. So they went to the Legislature.

Consumers Energy plans to become more environmentally friendly – while keeping customer bills stable.

The company rolled out its “Clean Energy Breakthrough Goal” Monday. It plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent and use zero coal by 2040. The company also plans to have more than 40 percent of its energy come from renewable sources and energy storage by that same deadline.

“In the past, people believed that we had to choose between affordable and clean energy,” said Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe. “We don’t subscribe to that sucker’s choice.”

Michigan State University’s Faculty Senate will hold a no confidence vote in the school’s Board of Trustees Tuesday. The vote is, in part, the result of the Board’s appointment of former governor John Engler.

“Although it’s mostly a symbolic vote, I think it very accurately represents our community at this point,” said MSU senior Alondra Alvizo.

Michigan House Republicans

Governor Rick Snyder delivers his eighth State of the State address Tuesday. The State of the State is a yearly event where the governor lays out his priorities for the upcoming year.

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is looking at making changes to state tax laws early in 2018. That’s after it discovered the new federal tax law could have an impact on Michigan resident’s wallets.

One consequence is the loss of some exemptions. That would raise what people owe in state taxes. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has been looking into the issue. He said the administration wants to change the state tax code so residents can still use all the state tax exemptions. Calley said they’re waiting for a bit more data before making any final decisions.

A fight between school employees and the state ended today – in favor of the employees.

The state took money from their paychecks between 2010 and 2012. That was after a law was passed allowing the state to take three percent of their pay for retiree health care costs. The Michigan Supreme Court said the law was unconstitutional, but that didn’t resolve the question of what to do about the money, some 550 million dollars, that had already been handed over to the state.

Nine cities and counties from across Michigan are taking drug companies to court. From the Upper Peninsula to Detroit, they are trying to recover many millions of dollars in costs related to the opioid crisis.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday night. It claims manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains misled doctors and the public about the dangers of opioids. And the legal actions also say the drug companies failed to follow safeguards that would have reduced the number of people addicted to opioids.

The governor has a stack of bills aimed at combating the opioid crisis headed to his desk. Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed bipartisan legislation Wednesday. A major goal is limiting the amount of opioids available to people who don’t need them.

Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) sponsored a bill in the package. That bill is aimed at curbing “doctor shopping.” It would require patients have a bona-fide relationship with a doctor who prescribes an opiate.

Money might be on the way to help fight perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in Michigan.

PFAS is a family of chemicals that’s been discovered in groundwater in 14 communities, and 28 sites, across the state. PFAS chemicals are used in things like flame retardants, cleaning products and food packaging.

Sue Leeming is the Deputy Director in the Office of External Relations for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She said dealing with PFAS has been a challenge because it’s an emerging contaminant.

Democratic lawmakers are trying once again to repeal the state’s “Right to Work” law.
 
Five years ago, a Republican-led Legislature made Right to Work the law of the state. It prohibits contracts that make union membership a condition of employment.
 
Democrats say letting people opt out of unions gives them a free ride to the benefits of the union.
 
Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) is a bill sponsor. He said strong unions are important to Michigan, but Right to Work diminishes the power of unions and reduces the number of members.

Members of a pipeline advisory board are criticizing a deal Governor Snyder struck with the energy company, Enbridge. They are calling for the line to be temporarily shut down.
 

Michigan residents who want to get into the medical marijuana business had their last shot at a training session Wednesday.

State employees took people step by step through the application process. They also explained the monitoring system for tracking marijuana from seed-to-sale.

David Harns is a spokesperson for the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. It oversees the medical marijuana licensing system. Harns says the trainings were meant to help make the application process as easy as possible.

The State Board of Education can’t agree on what to do about recent gun legislation.

There are four Democrats and four Republicans on the board, and there must be five “yes” votes in order for any measure to pass. With the partisan gridlock, the board currently can’t come to an agreement on a public position on bills that loosen restrictions on guns in schools.

Bills that recently passed in the state Senate would, among other things, require schools to allow people with a special permit to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

Pages