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Daily Audio Newscast - March 28, 2024

News from around the nation.

Audio file

Pulling back the curtains on wage-theft enforcement in MN; Trump's latest attack is on RFK, Jr; NM LGBTQ+ equality group endorses 2024 'Rock Star' candidates; Michigan's youth justice reforms: Expanded diversion, no fees.


The Public News Service Joan Newscast, March the 28th, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

A mix of policy updates and staffing boosts has helped to put wage theft enforcement on the radar in Minnesota.

Since Minnesota adopted a wage theft law in 2019, it has seen a handful of high-profile examples of state and local officials going after companies accused of short-changing workers.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi feels Minnesota is starting to come around to the idea that these matters shouldn't just be resolved through civil penalties.

He says there are some keys to taking the next step in seeing a wave of additional cases.

It's really doing the investigations and also making sure that we get referrals from other agencies who might be doing some of that civil enforcement.

Choi's office has hired a wage theft investigator.

However, stakeholders acknowledge not all county prosecutors and sheriff's departments have such resources.

I'm Mike Mowen.

The Labor Advisory Council says wage theft is rampant among non-union construction activity.

And former President Donald Trump attacked Robert Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate Wednesday, casting Kennedy as a liberal Democrat in disguise while also seeming to back him as a spoiler for President Biden.

That for The New York Times.

The report that Trump pointed in particular to Kennedy's views on climate change and the environment, writing on his social media site, he is far more radical left than Biden.

Yet he professed support for Kennedy's campaign, claiming that Mr. Kennedy would likely siphon votes from Biden.

I love that he's running, Trump said.

And after 30 years of championing the rights of LGBTQ people, Equality New Mexico has its finger on the pulse of supportive legislation and has made its earliest endorsements ever for the 2024 election.

Executive Director Marshall Martinez says the advocacy organization has come out early for candidates he calls equality rock stars, those who have demonstrated proactive leadership in the fight for LGBTQ issues.

He believes New Mexico and a handful of other states serve as models in supportive legislation.

Queer and trans people deserve to be happy and healthy in the community they live in.

But until we can make that happen at the national level, we want to make sure that those in New Mexico can have that life and that other folks could consider coming to New Mexico for that life.

I'm Roz Brown.

The LGBTQ rights organization has endorsed 15 candidates for New Mexico's House and Senate seats and expects a second round of endorsements before November.

Next from Yahoo News, Baltimore police said Wednesday they had found the bodies of two people killed when Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning.

Authorities said eight workers were fixing potholes on the bridge when the cargo ship Dolly lost power and struck it early Tuesday, causing it to collapse.

Two of the workers were rescued.

This is public news service.

We head next to Michigan, where the state recently implemented a significant juvenile justice reform package following recommendations from a task force made up of prosecutors, sheriffs, judges, and child advocates.

The reforms expand diversion eligibility, allocate state funds for programs, limit diversion periods to three months, and eliminate fines and fees.

Jason Smith heads the Michigan Center for Youth Justice and emphasizes the shift towards rehabilitation, community-based alternatives, standardized policies, risk assessments, and the removal of fines and fees in the system.

He says the new system is much more comprehensive.

If you don't serve a 10-year-old in the juvenile justice system, which we believe you shouldn't, what do you do with them?

But they need services.

What happens?

And I think that what we will see over the next couple of years with the expansion of diversion and community-based options will answer those questions.

The major reform involved changing the child care fund reimbursement model to incentivize local jurisdictions to invest more in community-based services.

Farah Siddiqui reporting.

And a recent report examines how some rural Tennessee hospitals have managed to stay afloat despite financial challenges.

The details now from our Danielle Smith.

The report includes interviews from staff at five different rural hospitals, which range in size from 25 to 125 beds.

Judy Roitman with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign says some of the hospitals are drowning in uncompensated care.

She explains that as part of the research, they did a comparison interview with a CEO from a rural hospital in Kentucky who expressed the importance of Medicaid expansion.

Kentucky has expanded its Medicaid program and Tennessee has not.

He said that's the key to our stability is actually having the funds coming in to treat these patients.

Roitman adds the federal government is offering Tennessee a 9-1 match.

If Tennessee were to expand Medicaid, at least 330,000 people would gain access to coverage.

Finally, from our Joe Uluri, after years of trying and failing, Indiana lawmakers have successfully put bobcats in the crosshairs.

The decision forces the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to create the hunting season framework and ignited fierce debate among lawmakers, wildlife advocates, and hunters regarding the necessity and ethics of targeting Indiana's only native wildcat species.

Samantha Chapman, Indiana State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, argues the bobcat population is still in the process of recovering.

It was very clear that the hunter and tracking lobby had a lot to do with this bill.

Folks had even mentioned wanting to eat bobcats, which to me seems absolutely preposterous.

Chapman stresses experts need scientific data before targeting the wildcats.

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

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