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Daily Audio Newscast - March 4, 2024

News from around the nation.

Audio file

Democracy Trailblazers ignite enthusiasm among teen voters; California monster blizzard batters Tahoe, Mammoth, Sierra amid avalanche warnings; Minnesota transportation sector could be next in line for carbon-free standard; IN teachers 'stunned' by lawmakers' bid to bypass collective bargaining.


The Public News Service to a newscast March the 4th, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

Most teenagers equally anticipate turning 16 to start driving and then 21 for other milestones.

But the significance of obtaining the right to vote at 18 often goes unnoticed.

One organization is taking action to change that perception and ignite enthusiasm among teens for voting and the electoral process.

Sharon McClure founded the grassroots group Democracy Trailblazers and has collaborated with schools in the Birmingham and Jefferson County area to register eligible students, marking just the beginning of their efforts.

Our goal is not just to register the kids.

We want to activate them also.

And so we're going to be calling all the 18-year-olds that's in our database for the election coming up on Tuesday, just reminding them that they're still in the election, making sure they know where the polling places are.

To emphasize the importance of the voting process, the group also conducts mock elections to display the power of individual votes and highlights the consequences of not participating.

McClure believes another key aspect of their work lies in educating young people about the historical significance of casting their ballots.

Shantia Hudson reporting.

While initially focused on Jefferson County and Birmingham, the organization aspires to expand across Alabama schools.

The most powerful California blizzard of the season pounded the Sierra Nevada with gusts up to 190 miles per hour, while heavy snow Sunday forced the closure of key roads to Lake Tahoe and the Mammoth Mountain areas.

That's from the LA Times.

They report that a rare blizzard warning was extended through this morning for the Lake Tahoe area.

Gusts greater than 100 miles per hour are expected on the Sierra ridges through early Monday, according to the weather service.

And Minnesota already had a law calling for 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2040.

Now there's a similar plan for transportation.

A legislative committee will consider the idea today.

The Clean Transportation Standard has a target year of 2050 for phasing out carbon intensive fuel sources for cars and trucks.

Producers slow to adapt would have to buy credits while companies distributing cleaner products would receive incentives.

Transportation accounts for about a quarter of Minnesota's greenhouse gas emissions, and Fresh Energy's Margaret Turney Hendricks says this approach could help reduce that total.

She points to newer types of biofuels beyond standards like ethanol.

For example, winter oil seeds are better for the environment.

They require much less fertilizer.

Under the bill, fuel sources would be graded on their carbon intensity to determine where they rate with the standard.

Skeptics, including some environmental researchers, say the plan could have unintended consequences in reducing emissions.

I'm Mike Moen.

This is Public News Service.

A farm advocacy group says large corporate agricultural producers are getting federal environmental safeguard funds that were intended for smaller operations.

The Inflation Reduction Act has provided $3 billion for conservation programs designed to shore up farm-related environmental safeguards, many focused on concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

Farm Action President Angela Huffman says a recent shift in Biden administration policy has allowed money intended for small or medium-sized farmers, who've often been underserved by USDA policies, to wind up in the hands of corporate CAFOs.

They're already raking in a lot of taxpayer-funded subsidies, so we're really urging USDA to reconsider this recent decision.

The latest data show Montana is home to more than 120 CAFOs, just a fraction of the national total of more than 120,000, but significant in a state that has decreased environmental regulations.

Large-scale ag operators say they also are looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly while meeting growing consumer demand for safe, high-quality foods.

I'm Mark Moen.

Meantime, two-thirds of folks in Colorado who have lost their health insurance during Medicaid's so-called unwinding process are still eligible for coverage, but were terminated due to administrative error.

According to a new Colorado Center on Law and Policy brief, Catherine Wallet, the Center's legal director, says she's heard from people who have been forced to postpone critical heart surgery due to lack of coverage.

Or a child who had cancer treatment who had to stop his treatment for a period of time because the family couldn't afford it, but in fact he was eligible for Medicaid during the time that he was terminated, so the costs are high.

Medicaid coverage renewed automatically during the pandemic, but that policy ended in April of last year.

I'm Eric Galatis.

Finally, from our Joe Ulori, Indiana teachers know more than anyone about the power of words.

They were speaking out about proposed legislation touted to make students smarter.

Citing a few sentences tucked away in the 16 pages of House Bill 1304, the bill outlines ways to improve math and reading proficiency in grades K through 12.

Ashley Zorns, who teaches at Anderson Community Schools, says she supports most of the ideas in the bill.

However, she was stunned to read new language which draws collective bargaining into the equation.

I want to know why our lawmakers are so honestly obsessed with unions and collective bargaining.

What is it that they are afraid of?

Because on my end and all of my peers' end, collective bargaining only benefits students and teachers.

Zorns says the language is shocking because other states have adopted similar legislation.

This is Mike Clifford.

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