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Daily Audio Newscast - July 11, 2024

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News from around the nation.

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Arizona senator: Many liberties at stake ahead of election. Race to restore power to 1.5M after Hurricane Beryl as dangerous heat wave continues; Feds fine bank $20 million for illegal car-insurance practices; Indiana law introduces big changes to home buying.


The Public News Service Daily Newscast, July the 11th, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

Abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, gun violence, and democracy itself are some of the issues Democrats are at stake as we head toward the November election.

Arizona State Senator Priya Sundareshan took part in the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee's Summer of the States event, where the power and role of state legislatures was discussed.

She says within the Arizona legislature, Democrats are currently only two seats away from potentially flipping both chambers, which would deliver what she calls a Democratic trifecta for the Grand Canyon State.

Sundareshan has been an advocate for protecting contraception and reproductive rights in Arizona.

It was Democrats who led the effort successfully to repeal our 1864 abortion ban, and we've got one or two Republicans to join with us, but that was not an effort that the Republican majority led.

Sundareshan and other Democrats are banking on abortion to drive voters to the polls this November in Arizona, where President Joe Biden won by just 10,000 votes in 2020.

I'm Alex Gonzalez reporting.

And more than 1.5 million customers in Texas were still without power Wednesday, depriving many of air conditioning during a dangerous heat wave 48 hours after Beryl made landfall on the Gulf Coast.

That from NBC News.

Meantime, the Midwest and the Northeast brace for heavy rain, flash flooding, thunderstorms, and possible tornadoes as Beryl continues to make its way north.

With power outages continuing across Southeast Texas, the lack of air conditioning will aggravate the risk for heat-related illnesses as high temperatures keep warming.

And Fifth Third Bank agreed to pay a $20 million fine to settle charges that forced car buyers to purchase unnecessary insurance and created fake accounts in customers' names.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said the bank required customers with car loans to buy insurance, even if they already had coverage or got their own within 30 days.

Rosemary Sheahan with Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety says some customers then couldn't afford the payments.

There were about 1,000 consumers who had their cars repossessed.

Most people rely on their car to get to and from work and get their kids to school and get to medical appointments so that is really devastating when they lose their car.

In a statement, Fifth Third Bank said it shut down the protection insurance program in 2019 and is taking action to set things right.

The money from the fine will go to a fund to reimburse 35,000 customers who were harmed.

The court order also bans the company from setting employee sales goals that incentivize fraudulently opening accounts.

I'm Suzanne Potter.

Back in 2015, Fifth Third Bank was ordered to pay more than $21 million in fines.

This is public news service.

Next to Indiana, where for years, home sellers have signed formal listing agreements with real estate brokers, but now buyers also need written agreements before purchasing a home.

The change is among 172 new laws approved this year by the Indiana General Assembly, which kicked in this month.

The change stems from a major settlement between home sellers and the National Association of Realtors aiming to boost transparency and consumer protection.

Maggie McShane with the Indiana Association of Realtors says professional representation is crucial for home buyers navigating a complex and challenging market.

Many states already require this.

We don't run into opposition from consumers in those states.

A change in practice might take some consumers by surprise, but they're being represented contractually as well.

Previously, home sellers typically covered both listing and buyer agent commissions, now buyers might need to pay their agent's commission if the seller opts out.

I'm Joe Illari, Public News Service.

Meantime, often celebrated in popular culture, Wisconsin's relationship with alcohol continues to give way to a troubling statistic that centers around excessive drinking.

There are calls now to step up prevention efforts.

The Badger State still ranks high for beer production, but Maureen Busulaki of the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project says consumption levels for all types of alcohol overshadow market gains.

For example, all Wisconsin counties exceed the national average for excessive alcohol use.

And in 2022, the state recorded more than 3,300 alcohol-related deaths.

This has been an ongoing problem in Wisconsin.

In part, I think how our regulatory system works, how our culture works, and there's maybe not as much enforcement.

She says binge drinking is a major problem and boosting age compliance checks at places that sell alcohol could help curb this activity among young adults.

I'm Mike Moen.

Finally, our Kathleen Shannon is here to tell us about a lending library for medical and mobility supplies.

Under the umbrella of the Legacy Foundation, Owen's Outfitters lends out a huge variety of medical equipment, from tiny syringes to hospital beds, as well as mobility devices and equipment for therapy and exercise.

There's no cost to borrow items and no deadline for returns.

Since the library's October 2023 launch, nearly 4,000 items have been borrowed by roughly 430 clients, most of whom are enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid.

Eleanor Turner, co-founder of the Legacy Foundation, says the library helps fill gaps.

We have a lot of folks say that Medicaid or Medicare does not cover these items, or perhaps their insurance will cover one type, but not another type of what they need.

Turner says when the library received positive community response, the foundation started toying with the idea of traveling to reach more rural parts of the state.

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

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