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
 

A new partnership has a plan to keep Lake Erie clean. The MI CLEAR group is made up of farmers, conservationists, environmental leaders, and more. Those groups are teaming up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Jamie Clover Adams is the Director of the Department of Agriculture. She said the multiple perspectives will help improve the lake’s water quality on a variety of fronts.

“This didn’t happen overnight and it’s not gonna be fixed overnight,” she said. “This is a very complex problem that will call for many solutions.”

A former Michigan State University sports doctor’s sexual assault case will continue as scheduled – despite objections by both the defense and the prosecutors.

Both sides agree Dr. Larry Nassar’s Ingham County trial needs to wait. Nassar will be sentenced on federal child pornography charges soon.

The current schedule has that court date happening the same week as jury selection for sexual assault charges in an Ingham County court.

The prosecutor and defense said that with all the media attention, Nassar wouldn’t be able to get a fair trial with that schedule.

Rosemarie Aquilina is the judge in the Ingham County case. She says there will be over 700 jurors to choose from.

“Those jurors will be told not to listen to the media.  Not to do any homework,” Aquilina said.

Nassar is accused of sexually assaulting multiple young gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.

Aquilina says that trial will go forward as planned.

Some lawmakers in Lansing are debating whether the State Board of Education is necessary.

The resolution discussed at Thursday’s House education committee would do away with the state board, the board-appointed state superintendent, and the State Board for Public Community and Junior Colleges.

Instead, the governor would appoint a director for Michigan’s Department of Education.

Legislation to nix Driver Responsibility Fees is moving through the state Legislature.

The fees require drivers to pay to get their driver’s license back after getting too many points on their license or committing certain driving offenses.

There’s already a law to phase out the fees completely in 2019. But lawmakers say that’s not soon enough. They want the fee to be gone by October of next year. And they want people that haven’t paid their fees to be forgiven.

A Republican candidate for governor has been kicked off of his Senate committees.

Senator Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) is known for being outspoken on conservative issues – even against his own party. He’s spoken out against Republican handling of the Medicaid expansion and the gas tax. Colbeck was already one of the few Republican Senators without a committee chairmanship.

Colbeck said he’ll continue to represent his district – it just might be a little harder now.

The Michigan Supreme Court has awarded more than $3 million in grants to circuit courts across the state.

The money will help pay for the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, an intense probation supervision program in the state. The program is for high-risk, felony offenders who have a history of violating the rules of their probation. It offers specialized and structured help so they can finish their probation successfully – and stay out of trouble.

A bill in the state Legislature would change how schools teach sex education. The new curriculum would focus on “changing the culture” around sexual assault.

“Under the current system, my daughter will be taught where not to walk, what not to wear, where not to leave her drink, while my sons will never be taught not to be perpetrators,” said bill sponsor, state Senator Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing.

Michigan may start tracking its sexual assault evidence kits. An amendment to the state’s budget would pay for the required software and training.

The kits contain swabs and other evidence gathered from a victim of sexual assault. Software would track the kit as it moves from hospital to police department to laboratory. It also sends out alerts if a kit has been in one location too long. 

“It’s gonna open up an opportunity for checks and balances and that’s absolutely what we need for these,” said Representative Laura Cox, R-Livonia. “These are very, very important kits.”

Members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus met with the head of the Michigan State Police Thursday.

 

The meeting was to address concerns about a meme Colonel Kriste Etue posted on Facebook. It called NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem “degenerates.”

 

Members of the caucus called for Etue’s resignation or firing.

  Michigan’s Speaker of the House has his eye on a new government position for 2019.

 

The state legislature held a marathon committee hearing on a bill to overhaul Michigan’s auto insurance law Tuesday. The committee heard ideas for potential changes to the bill.

One idea is to prevent insurance companies from using credit scores to influence rates.

Mayor Mike Duggan had a major hand in crafting the bill the committee discussed. He said he’d like to see changes to the bill; but he said the focus needs to be on passing immediate rate relief.

Another Democrat entered the ring for Michigan’s Attorney General Thursday.

Pat Miles is a former U.S. Attorney for Michigan’s Western District. He was appointed to the U.S. Attorney post by President Barack Obama. He voluntarily resigned when President Donald Trump took office.

Trump’s election was a driving force behind Miles’s decision to run, he said.

“We need somebody who will be an independent watchdog and who doesn’t answer to a president, a governor, or to corporate special interests, but only answers to the people,” Miles said.

Lawmakers in Lansing say they want a seamless transition as marijuana dispensaries start to get licensed.

Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation today. A few Republicans have voiced support of the bills. The legislation would let dispensaries keep their doors open while they wait for a license.

A bipartisan group in Michigan rolled out a new auto no-fault insurance overhaul plan today.

Republican Speaker of the House, Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, and Detroit’s mayor, Mike Duggan, have been working together for months on the plan.

Lawmakers from both parties have tried for years to pass changes to Michigan’s auto insurance laws. Duggan said the legislation isn’t perfect for Democrats or Republicans. But he thinks he can get bipartisan support.  

The Trump administration recently announced new guidance for how college campuses should handle sexual assault complaints. But Michigan universities won’t be changing their policies right away.

The Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault last week.

The new guidance isn’t mandatory, and officials say it’s temporary until they come up with new rules.

Daniel Hurley is the CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. He said Michigan campuses will keep their current policies for now.

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