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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.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

I-40 Bridge Crack Puts Spotlight on Nation’s Infrastructure

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Tuesday, May 18, 2021   

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Lawmakers are expected to make headway on President Joe Biden's $2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure proposal this week, as Arkansas' aging infrastructure made headlines with the discovery of a large crack in the Interstate 40 Hernando de Soto Bridge across the Mississippi River that led to its indefinite closure last week.

Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said shipping and supply-chain disruptions will likely become more common if significant spending isn't directed toward major transportation improvements.

"Because of our inadequate infrastructure at the moment, we lose $170 billion annually in lost productivity," Mortimer stated.

Senate Republicans are soon expected to deliver a revised version of the proposal to the president.

Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department for the AFL-CIO, said the issue is closely tied to good jobs.

"I would say every single job in this country, at some level, is directly connected to our infrastructure system," Regan asserted. "Whether it's because people use it, or the people that build and operate and maintain it. And everybody suffers when we have this level of neglect."

Mortimer added decades of underfunding and deferred maintenance have pushed infrastructure across the nation to the brink of failure.

"So we need to make these investments now," Mortimer contended. "To make sure we are getting the best out of our national network, we're competing in a global economy, and we have an improved quality of life for every single American."

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, driving on roads in need of repair in Arkansas costs each driver $671 per year. Around 5% of bridges are rated structurally deficient, and 193 dams are considered to be high-hazard potential.


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House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

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