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Daily Audio Newscast - May 6, 2024

News from around the nation.

Audio file

Alabama faces battle at the ballot box; groups look to federal laws for protection; Israeli Cabinet votes to shut down Al Jazeera in the country; Florida among top states for children losing health coverage post-COVID; despite the increase, South Dakota teacher salary one of the lowest in the country.


The Public News Service Daily Newscast, May the 6th, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

The state of Alabama has long been at the forefront of voting rights issues in the U.S.

And despite some progress, advocates say, residents continue to face barriers at the ballot box.

In a recent discussion held in Montgomery, the Center for American Progress brought together voting rights experts to shed light on the ongoing struggle against voter suppression in the state.

One of the panelists, Kathy Jones, with the League of Women Voters, highlights ongoing efforts that have hindered equitable access.

Just this past year, we've had Wes Allen and his office has eliminated the phone app for voter registration and being able to check your polling places, which is a real hardship for people who rely on their phones to be able to do the business that they need to do if they need to register to vote.

The latest way Jones says ballot box access is being blocked is the recent passage of a law that criminalizes assistance with absentee ballot applications.

Supporters say they believe the bill would prevent ballot harvesting.

She says other ways of restricting access to the ballot box include regulating early voting.

Shantia Hudson reporting.

The Freedom to Vote Act would expand voter registration, limit removing voters from voter rolls, and even outlines criteria to prevent gerrymandering.

Now to news across the world.

Israel moved Sunday to shut down the local operations of Al Jazeera, the influential Qatari-based news network, in an unusual step that critics announced is anti-democratic.

That from the New York Times.

They report the prime minister there, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused Al Jazeera, a major source of news in the Arab world, of harming Israel's security and inciting violence against its soldiers.

In a statement, Al Jazeera called the decision a criminal act.

And after Texas, a new report shows Florida has seen the second largest decline in the number of kids enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Of the 4.16 million fewer children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, Florida accounts for nearly 600,000 enrollment declines, according to a report by Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

Tracking the Medicaid unwinding since COVID-related coverage protections were lifted.

Allison Yeager with the Florida Health Justice Project says it's more like a crisis has been unfolding in Florida and they've long been sounding the alarm.

This is at its most extreme a question of life or death really.

And short of that, we are seeing far too many families having to now scramble to figure out what's going to change in their monthly budget so that they can now pay for whatever medications their kids require.

Yeager cautions that even if families qualify for one of Florida's kid care programs, there are gaps in coverage.

I'm Trammell Gomes.

This is public news service.

This is teacher appreciation week and there's some mixed news when it comes to how well South Dakota is compensating teachers.

According to the National Education Association's annual rankings and estimates report, the national average teacher salary increased about 4 percent to nearly $70,000 a year between the 2021 and 2022 school years.

But adjusted for inflation, teachers still make 5 percent less than they did a decade ago.

President of the South Dakota Education Association, Lauren Paul, notes that teachers there saw one of the highest salary increases across the country this year, a more than 5 percent jump.

And the last three years, we've seen more than what is required by the state.

So hopefully we can continue that trend.

Despite the increase, South Dakota didn't shake its national salary rank of 49th at just over $53,000.

I'm Kathleen Shannon.

And Minnesota is coming off another windy month in April.

Those strong wind gusts may have translated into some extra cash for counties.

Minnesota has a wind and solar energy production tax, which allows jurisdictions where these systems are located to collect revenue based on the energy that's generated.

Nobles County brought in nearly $2 million in 2023, third highest in the state.

County Commissioner Gene Metz says over time, this extra financial stream has helped cover maintenance costs.

We did a 10-year bond basically to upgrade our buildings.

You know, we had roofs that needed work, outside windows, that type of thing.

While it's become a solid income source, Metz says turbines taken out of operation for repairs or less windy seasons can make the numbers vary in certain years.

Minnesota supporters also are eyeing bipartisan legislation to speed up the permitting process for these energy projects.

I'm Mike Mowen.

Finally, from Aras Brown, New Mexico's diverse national parks located adjacent to extraction sites will ensure greater protections under a new federal rule.

Changes to how the Bureau of Land Management oversees America's 245 million acres of public lands were announced last month.

The rules also apply to places such as Carlsbad Caverns, Chaco and other parks near mining and oil and gas development.

Daniel Hart with the National Parks Conservation Association says the new rule will benefit Western landscapes in multiple ways.

It's going to protect the parks, not only from the pollution, but also it's going to protect the water, it's going to protect the wildlife that cross in and out of these parks.

And then the cumulative effect when we see energy just along these park borders, it causes untold damage.

Ninety percent of lands managed by the BLM remain open for oil and gas development.

This is Mike Clifford.

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