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Daily Audio Newscast - April 18, 2024

News from around the nation.

Audio file

A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.


The Public News Service telenewscast April the 18th, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

Health disparities in Texas are not only making some people sick, they are also having an impact on the state's economy.

A new study finds Texas is losing seven billion dollars a year because it doesn't adequately address quality of life issues and the health care needs of its lower income residents.

The research was sponsored by the Episcopal Health Foundation, Methodist Health Care Ministries of South Texas and St. David's Foundation.

Brian Sasser with the Episcopal Health Foundation says health care includes more than doctors visits and medication.

Everything from increasing access to affordable health insurance to investing in under-resourced neighborhoods to give them more options, whether that's exercise options or food options.

Look at policy changes that expand health insurance coverage for new moms.

The report breaks down the economic cost of preventable health differences for every Texas county.

It says Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties are losing the most money annually because of health disparities.

I'm Freda Ross reporting.

And now from CNN, the impeachment trial against Alejandro Mayorkas barely got underway.

The Senate killed the articles of impeachment against the Homeland Security Secretary on Wednesday.

And more than a third of all Massachusetts municipalities have had a change in their chief election official or their town clerk since the 2020 presidential election.

Heightened scrutiny and harassment are helping fuel an increasing turnover rate of election officials in Massachusetts and beyond, according to a new report.

More than a third of all Massachusetts municipalities have had a change in their chief election official or town clerk since 2020.

Rachel Orry with the Bipartisan Policy Institute says the job has grown more complex.

Today, election officials must manage everything from cyber security risks posed by foreign adversaries to public communications of people who are doubting the outcome of elections to information technology, legal disputes.

While Massachusetts has experienced lower turnover rates than other states, Orry says rates are highest in larger urban jurisdictions, which have been the focus of unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

The Justice Department says it has opened more than 100 investigations involving threats to election workers since the creation of a special task force in 2021.

Many threats stem from the belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Orry says the stresses of the job are impacting longtime workers dedicated to free and fair elections.

That's where state and federal legislators can really step in to provide adequate resources, competitive compensation levels, and safety protections for election officials.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

For Public News Service, I'm Catherine Carley.

This is Public News Service.

It's budget time in New York and the New York Heat Act might not make the final budget.

The bill reduces the state's reliance on natural gas and cuts ratepayer costs by eliminating certain rules.

It was in both legislative chambers one house budgets, but last minute scrambling could remove it.

New York League of Conservation Voters Patrick McClellan says aside from people's preference for natural gas, other challenges have made the bill hard to pass.

I think that there has also been some irresponsible fear mongering against this bill from some people who oppose it, basically telling people that this means that their natural gas service is going to be taken away from them tomorrow or it's going to happen without warning and that's just not the case.

The bill would not mean gas companies could walk away from providing service to new customers since its effects occur over a longer period.

Rural lawmakers have been skeptical about relying solely on electricity since people could lose power in bad storms.

I'm Edwin J. Vieira.

Next, Merrick Tengenhoff.

Oregon lawmakers passed a major housing package in this year's session, but easing the state's housing crisis will take some more work.

Bills passed during the short legislative session will send a total of $376 million to address the state's housing shortage.

That includes Senate Bill 1530 and Senate Bill 1537.

Priorities for Governor Tina Kotak, head of Habitat for Humanity of Oregon Shannon Vilhauer, says the governor's housing package is groundbreaking.

We also see important investments in emergency housing assistance, addiction recovery support, and renters protection.

So those are all investments that are going to help stabilize Oregonians in need of housing assistance and benefit the communities we all share.

The housing package includes funds for housing and homelessness projects and to support counties buying land and development properties.

Finally, our Mark Moran lets us know that educators and public school advocates are pushing back on a measure that would consolidate state-funded services that have been an important part of schools in rural Iowa for generations.

Area education agencies, or AEAs, have been the go-to place for educators in rural Iowa when they need state services at the local level in all 99 Iowa counties.

House Bill 2612 would consolidate the AEAs, outsource some of their services, and give the state oversight of them.

Common Good Iowa's Mike Owen says the AEAs have been critical resources for generations.

Area education agencies have been a very valuable regional system that helps school districts large and small with various services that they can't really do on their own, from special education to media services to professional development of teachers.

Governor Kim Reynolds, who signed House Bill 2612, says the measure will provide a more efficient way to spend the state's education dollars.

This is Mike Clifford for Public News Service, member and listener supported.

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