Category: News

Traditional vs. Cutting-Edge Economy

With the innovative “share-to-share” or “peer economy” on the rise, Americans are reaping the benefits of competitive prices and experiencing more affordable ways to travel and lodge. However, some consumers have stuck to the comfort of the traditional economy. After all, isn’t climbing into a stranger’s car or sleeping in an unfamiliar basement risky?

I’ll tell you everything you need to know!

This broadcast was produced for use by Radio America, the University of Delaware, and The Kylee Zempel Blog. You can find the podcast version here.

Traditional vs. Cutting-Edge Economy from Radio America on Vimeo.


Another Terror Attack Strikes London

Tragedy struck London once again, this time when a man used a van as a weapon of terror against a group of Muslims just after midnight Monday morning, leaving one man dead and ten others injured.

As Ramadan prayers ended, groups of Muslim worshippers scattered from the Finsbury Park Mosque in London. Witnesses report that a white van drove at high speeds down Seven Sisters Road before it veered into a crowd of Muslims on the sidewalk near the mosque. Witnesses were able to detain the suspect—a 48-year-old white male—until police arrived at the scene. Witnesses reported seeing two other men flee from the van, but police believe that the driver acted alone. Although police have not yet released the name of the man in question, the van displays the logo and telephone number of a van rental company in South Wales.

Police found one man dead at the crime scene, although his cause of death is still unknown. Witnesses report that the man had felt ill and collapsed in the street, and bystanders had begun giving him aid before the incident ensued. According to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, eight people required hospitalization, including two who incurred serious injuries. First responders treated two others with minor injuries at the crime scene.

Police are treating the attack as an act of terror and will continue investigation.

Senate Remains Divided Over a Bill to Replace Obamacare

Nearly 5 months into Donald Trump’s Presidency, and Congress remains divided over a bill to repeal Obamacare, which was President Trump’s number one campaign promise. Holding 52 of 100 Senate seats, Republicans are trying to pass the bill using the budget process of reconciliation to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

Fearing the possibility that the bill may not pass the Senate, Republican leaders have focused their attention on appealing to the moderate members within the caucus. GOP Senators have already conceded several key issues, including the the continuation of several Obamacare taxes and prohibiting states from repealing a health insurance rule known as community rating, which protects those with pre-existing conditions. Other issues in question are Medicaid expansion and increased tax credits for low-income Americans to buy insurance.

So far, the approach of appeasing the Senate GOP moderates stands in stark contrast to the approach of the House last month, when House leaders relented on several key issues to appease the most conservative lawmakers in the House.

As the Senate continues negotiations, President Trump is urging lawmakers to begin work on other legislation such as infrastructure and tax reform. However, lawmakers are more divided. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeks to protect swing state Republican Senators whose seats are up in 2018. Many Republicans, including Senator John Thune of South Dakota, are concerned about the consequences if lawmakers are unable to make good on President Trump’s campaign promises in 2017.  

For now, the Senate will continue its painstaking efforts on the American Health Care Act.

A Department of Labor report reveals the number of available jobs in the U.S. rose to 6 million

The number of job openings in the U.S. rose to 6 million according to an April 2017 report the Department of Labor released today. The United States is operating at full employment as the unemployment rate stands at 4.3%. This rate leaves the number of Americans searching for work around 6.9 million according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For years, economic reporters and employers have contributed the discrepancy between available jobs and the unemployment rate, in part, to the “skills gap,” but the latest “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary” from the Department of Labor suggests that conclusion may be incorrect. Of the 259,000 jobs added to the national total, the greatest increase occurred in the food service industry and accommodation subsector, which together provided 118,000 jobs. Portions of the food service industry and the accommodation subsector support numerous low-skill or entry-level positions, raising questions about how the skills gap interacts with current unemployment and job availability statistics.

The same report by the Labor Department states that jobs increased in both the Northeast and the Midwest. This is evidenced by the shifting focus from job creation to workforce development in states within those areas. During his 2017 State of the State Address, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin remarked, “Our biggest challenge is not creating jobs, but finding people to fill them. We went from a focus on ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ to talking about ‘workforce, workforce, workforce.’ This is my top priority for 2017 – and beyond.”

The success or failure of a growing emphasis on workforce development may be manifested by future Labor Department economic news releases and state employment trends.

The Fight Against Opioid Abuse in Wisconsin

Opioid and heroin abuse are growing matters of concern across the United States, particularly in the state of Wisconsin. Data analysis has revealed an expansion of prescription and non-prescription opioid-related drug abuse; and the devastating results on Wisconsin families, correctional systems, law enforcement, healthcare providers, first responders, and others is astounding.

In response to the alarming rate at which opioid abuse had metastasized, Representative John Nygren first took action in September 2013 when he introduced seven bills that laid the foundation for his Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E.) Agenda. H.O.P.E. received unanimous bipartisan support, and ten additional bills targeting prescription opiates were added to the H.O.P.E. Agenda in 2015 and 2016. In September 2016, Governor Walker began assembling an Opioid Abuse Task Force, co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Representative John Nygren. The other eighteen members of the Task Force were announced on October 25, 2016, and the first task force meeting was held three days later on October 28, 2016.

Just over two months later, on January 5, 2017, Governor Scott Walker’s Opioid Abuse Task Force issued a report that communicated the alarming figures associated with opioid-related abuse and the immediacy of taking action to reverse the current trends. According to the report, from 2003 to 2014, opioid-related fatalities more than tripled. Although extensive research on the causes of the increase is limited, analysts have concluded that the rise in fatalities may be due to any combination of the following: the rise in use and abuse of pain killers with opioids, lowered prices and readily-distributed heroin, new developments in heroin abuse demographics, and reduced need for heroin injections due to a rise in the prevalence of pure heroin. In addition, more deaths have occurred as a result of drug overdose than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, colon cancer, suicide, firearms, HIV, or influenza.

The report included the bills presented through the H.O.P.E. Agenda as well as recommendations to the Governor from the Opioid Abuse Task Force. The recommendations were divided into three categories including Legislation and Statutes, Funding and Programs, and Executive Actions.

In response to the recommendations made in the report, Governor Walker took immediate action and signed three executive orders. The orders contained the following directives:

  • Executive Order #228 directed state agencies to take added action to combat opioid addiction and abuse based on the recommendations made by Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch and Representative Nygren of the Opioid Abuse Task Force.
  • Executive Order #229 directed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to apply for funding from the federal government made available through the 21st Century Cures Act. The Act makes up to $7,636,938 available annually for two years through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant for opioid crisis response programs.
  • Executive Order #230 called a session of the Wisconsin State Legislature to assemble at 11:00 a.m. on January 5, 2017, to discuss the following legislation:
    • LRB-1026, relating to opioid antagonist administration in schools
    • LRB-1327, relating to treatment and diversion programs and providing funding
    • LRB-1323, relating to limited immunity for persons who receive first responder care after experiencing a drug overdose
    • LRB-1325, relating to requirements for prescriptions for certain Schedule V controlled substances
    • LRB-1328, relating to the civil commitment of persons experiencing substance abuse addiction
    • LRB-0639, relating to the University of Wisconsin System chartering a recovery school
    • Legislation relating to the rural hospital graduate medical training program and $63,000 in each year of the 2017-2019 biennium for additional fellowships
    • Legislation relating to $1,000,000 in each year of the 2017-2019 biennium for grants to support new medically assisted treatment centers
    • Legislation relating to $500,000 in each year of the 2017-2019 biennium for a consultation service for medical professionals to access addiction medicine specialists
    • Legislation relating to $420,000 in each year of the 2017-2019 biennium for four additional criminal investigation agents at the Wisconsin Department of Justice focused on drug interdiction and trafficking
    • Legislation relating to $100,000 in each year of the 2017-2019 biennium to expand the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training program offered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

On January 5, 2017, in a weekly radio address, Governor Walker stated: “The orders I signed today are another step in the right direction, and build upon our previous efforts including the H.O.P.E., or Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education legislation we signed into law late last spring . . . Chances are we all know someone who has been personally affected by a drug overdose. Together, we will work to save lives and eliminate this public health crisis.”

Governor Scott Walker, the Opioid Abuse Task Force, Wisconsin agencies, and other individuals are dedicated to fighting against opioid abuse in Wisconsin one step at a time until the problem is resolved.