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Daily Audio Newscast - June 13, 2024

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News from around the nation.

Audio file

Republicans have put Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress; state legislatures are missing people from working-class jobs, and FDA has advice for formulating the next COVID vaccine for a new strain.


The Public News Service Daily Newscast for June 13, 2024.

I'm Joe Ulrich.

The Republican-led House has voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt following Hunter Biden's felony gun charge conviction.

The Washington Post reports the 216-207 vote is mostly symbolic and reflects rising partisanship in Washington.

Garland vowed not to be intimidated.

Representative age has received extra attention in this year's presidential race.

Meanwhile, North Dakota voters this week embraced setting age limits for congressional representatives for the state.

And an expert has some doubts.

In this week's primary election, 61 percent of voters backed a state constitutional amendment that says no one from North Dakota elected to the U.S.

House or Senate can be 81 or older towards the end of their term.

Elizabeth Kinzinger of Boston College's research group on aging says concerns about older people holding office isn't a simple debate.

She says outside of dementia, the science doesn't support the idea that an older age threshold needs to be set.

The science might suggest that there are some things that an 80-year-old might be doing better than a 60-year-old or a 40-year-old.

She says that includes being able to look at the big picture on major issues and regulating emotions more effectively.

I'm Mike Moen.

The Federal Reserve has kept its key interest rate unchanged, indicating just one cut is expected by year-end.

CNBC reports following a two-day meeting, the Fed removed two rate cuts from its March projections.

New forecasts show optimism toward inflation reaching the 2 percent goal, suggesting possible policy loosening later this year.

Traders reacted positively, pushing the S&P 500 to a record high.

State legislatures are missing a very large segment of the workforce - people from working-class jobs.

Half of all Americans go to work every day in the service industry, doing clerical work or in construction and other manual labor jobs.

But fewer than 2 percent of state lawmakers have any experience in these kinds of working-class jobs, according to a new report.

Report co-author Nicholas Karnes of Duke University says when a broad section of the workforce is not represented, their concerns can be missed in critical policy decisions.

He points to the old political saying, "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."

If there's a problem facing most lawyers, you can be darn sure the state legislature is going to care about it.

But if there's a problem facing working-class people, our institutions can miss it when we have so few workers. 1 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats in state legislatures came from working-class occupations in 2023.

The report echoes warnings by Northwestern and Princeton University researchers that American democracy has become a plutocracy.

While ordinary voters have virtually zero impact on national policies, those decisions are dominated by wealthy individuals and business interests.

I'm Eric Galatas.

This is Public News Service.

The FDA has advised makers of the COVID-19 vaccine to formulate the next dosage to fight the quickly spreading JN1 strain of the virus.

JN1 was first discovered in the United States in September, and researchers say it's similar to previous strains, but spreads easier and faster.

According to the CDC, JN1 accounted for 3.5 percent of cases in November.

That number jumped to 85 percent of COVID cases in January.

Texas A&M University virologist Dr. Ben Newman says getting vaccinated is still the best way to avoid getting sick.

It would be important, I would say, to get the updated vaccine as soon as it's available.

I'm Freda Ross reporting.

Now to Connecticut, where new legislation aims to tackle the ongoing child care workforce shortage, leaving 40,000 slots unfilled.

The House bill introduces the Tri-Share Child Care Pilot Program in New London.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Baisowitz says the initiative will lower child care costs.

Despite providers earning just over $15 an hour, matching the national average, it falls short given the state's high living costs.

This innovative program is going to split child care expenses even between employee, employer, and the state to make sure that the burden is shared equitably.

The Economic Policy Institute reports infant child care costs over $15,000 annually, dropping to nearly $13,000 for a four-year-old.

Baisowitz believes strengthening child care statewide will address Connecticut's broader workforce shortage, as one in five parents has quit or been fired due to child care issues.

Full-time LGBTQ workers make about 90 cents for every dollar earned by the average worker in the United States.

And today, LGBTQ Equal Pay Awareness Day, one Arizona organization is continuing to call for a more just and equal Arizona.

Angela Huey with One Community says her organization wants to see progress.

In a 2020 landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court held that an employer who fires or discriminates against an individual for being gay or transgender would be "in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act."

But Huey says that only applies to businesses that have 15 or more employees.

So that means unless the business is located in one of the 11 municipalities that already has LGBTQ+ municipal ordinances in place in employment and housing and public accommodations, that it's not unlawful to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation.

So we need to do better.

This is Joe Ulrich for Public News Service, member and listener supported, heard on interesting radio stations and your favorite podcast platform.

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