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Daily Audio Newscast - March 1, 2024

News from around the nation.

As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.


(upbeat music) This is the Public News Service Daily Newscast for March 1st, 2024.

I'm Mike Moen.

Immigration took center stage Thursday in the race for the White House as President Joe Biden and GOP challenger Donald Trump surveyed the US-Mexico border.

The two tussled from a distance over who's to blame for issues within the nation's immigration system and how to fix them.

For his part, Biden sought to spotlight the necessity of a bipartisan border security bill that was tanked by congressional Republicans under Trump's orders.

Meanwhile, Trump declared that migrants arriving at the border were criminals and some were terrorists, a dialed-up version of the accusations he often used during the 2016 campaign.

And as members of Congress and presidential candidates battle it out over immigration, a group of Nevada leaders and experts dedicated to advancing immigration reform is discussing the complexities and challenges of the topic.

Alex Gonzalez has more.

Zach Mueller is political director of the nonprofit America Voices.

He warns Nevada voters that during the upcoming election cycle, he suspects there will be lots of myths and disinformation about immigrants and immigration.

But many times, the folks that are perpetuating that kind of disinformation are not actually just talking about immigrants, they're not just talking about immigration policy, but it is a mechanism and a tool to try to divide around concerns around safety, around concerns around identity, concerns around scarcity.

Mueller says it's okay to disagree on what the appropriate policy for immigration might be, but he encourages office holders and candidates on both sides of the aisle to use their words wisely and not incite political violence.

I'm Alex Gonzalez reporting.

The Alabama House and Senate have both passed bills that would help people resume in-virtual fertilization and provide legal protections for providers and patients in certain cases.

The bills passed swiftly despite debates surrounding immunity and personhood.

Heidi Miller with a reproductive justice group, Yellow Hammer Fund, says while this is a positive step that allows families to resume treatments, they're still concerned with the limited timeframe the bills offer.

So it just feels like a very limited solution to me.

And that's our stance as an org, is that it feels very much like a Band-Aid on open wounds.

And so that's how we've kind of been looking at those bills because Senator Nelson's bill similarly would be repealed on April 1st, 2025.

Both bills would apply retroactively and be automatically repealed next year, which Miller says could affect families again.

This comes after IVF programs around the state stopped offering the service over concerns about legal consequences following an eight to one state Supreme Court ruling.

The court ruled that frozen embryos are protected by the state's wrongful death of a minor act that protects children regardless of location.

This is PNS.

The IRS plans to go after 125,000 high income earners who did not file tax returns going back to 2017.

And the agency says hundreds of millions of dollars of unpaid taxes are involved in these cases.

Noncompliance letters are starting to go out this week.

The campaign is part of the agency's ongoing effort to pursue high earners who have failed to file returns, mandated in part by funding from the Inflation Reduction Act passed into law in 2022, and a directive from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to not increase audit rates on people making less than $400,000 a year.

Turning to the courts, a courtroom situation can be overwhelming for people unfamiliar with legal proceedings.

And as Terry Dee reports, for juvenile offenders, online or virtual hearings often create anxiety.

One attorney wants to return to traditional in-person hearings.

The Justice for Children Policy Brief says minors reported feeling frustrated and anxious during their hearings because they could not understand court proceedings.

They also said there was a lack of privacy when speaking with their attorneys.

Child rights lawyer Angie Vigil opposes digital proceedings for any hearings for children.

Judges are people and decision makers are people.

And when you're in the presence of other people, you make a humanity-based decision.

And when you're looking at a screen, you might not make as much of a humanity-based decision.

In 2022, the Illinois House of Representatives passed House Resolution 616, urging the Illinois Supreme Court to require courts to responsibly transition juvenile delinquency proceedings back to in-person hearings, with priority given to those hearings where the interests of liberty are at stake.

I'm Terry Dee reporting.

It's early in the season for wildfires in states like Nebraska, but dozens of firefighters have already been battling a large wildfire near North Platte for several days.

The severity of the Betty's Way fire led Governor Jim Pillen to declare a state of emergency.

Nebraska State Forester and Director of the Nebraska Forest Service, John Erickson, says the whole state is at high risk right now.

He adds about 93% of wildfires in Nebraska are human-caused, often started by sparks from vehicles.

So if you're pulling a trailer, you have chains that are attached to the vehicle and the trailer that are dragging on the ground and across the pavement, that creates sparks, which can create fires in a hurry.

Parking vehicles in tall grass is another one that is common.

Erickson explains allowing a car's hot catalytic converter to touch dry grass can create sparks, as can equipment use, such as mower blades hitting a rock.

That's how the North Platte fire started.

The last update, it was roughly 80% contained, and it had burned over 70,000 acres and destroyed at least one home.

And that's the Public News Service Daily Newscast for March 1st, 2024.

I'm Mike Moen.

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