News you might have missed: Governors swoop in to help struggling Midwest farmers


Also: Virginia decriminalizes marijuana and voter safety wins the day in a couple of key states.

This week, North Carolina celebrates emergency medical workers, Michigan workers gain more protections as they go back to work, and a few lucky penguins take a field trip to an art museum.

Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.

Minnesota and Wisconsin provide aid to farmers

Govs. Tim Walz of Minnesota and Tony Evers of Wisconsin, both Democrats, took action this week to help farmers in their respective states.

In Minnesota, Walz signed a bill on Monday to stop foreclosures against farmers struggling during the coronavirus crisis until Dec. 1, the Associated Press reported.

On the same day, Evers announced a $50 million program to send direct support to farmers in his state. Eligible farmers who apply could receive funds as early as June.

Even before the pandemic, Midwest farmers were struggling with foreclosures due in large part to Donald Trump's trade war with China.

Farmers "serve as the backbone of many of Wisconsin's local rural economies, and these direct payments will help revitalize local economies and jump-start Wisconsin’s food supply chain," Evers said in a statement.

Michigan governor prioritizes worker protections

Michigan businesses must follow strict worker safety guidelines as the state reopens, according to an executive order signed Monday by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

"The vast majority of Michigan businesses are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, but we must do more to ensure Michiganders are safe at work," Whitmer said.

The order will create a director of COVID-19 workplace safety within the state's Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to ensure that businesses comply.

"We're grateful to Gov. Whitmer for taking action today to save lives and hold down the spread of this awful virus," Rob Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, said.

Voter safety victories in Michigan and Texas

Every Michigan voter will be mailed an absentee ballot application, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on Tuesday, for both the August primary and the November general elections.

"Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure," Benson, a Democrat, said about her decision, adding, "We have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote."

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas ruled that any voter in the state can request an absentee ballot on the grounds of fear of the coronavirus, a decision described as "a path for a massive expansion of absentee voting" by the Texas Tribune. Before the ruling, Texas limited who could request an absentee ballot, and fear of catching the coronavirus was not considered sufficient reason for obtaining one.

"Americans now seek Life without fear of pandemic, Liberty to choose their leaders in an environment free of disease and the pursuit of Happiness without undue restrictions," U.S. District Judge Fred Biery wrote in his opinion.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, announced he would appeal the ruling.

Democrats flip two seats in Massachusetts special election

Democrats in Massachusetts hold a wide 36-to-4 majority in the state Senate after they gained two seats in a special election on Tuesday.

"By flipping two seats red to blue, Susan Moran and John Velis have grown the Democratic majority in the state Senate, giving Democrats the numbers they need to continue their great work in Massachusetts," Jessica Post, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said in an email.

Moran won a seat representing Plymouth, and Velis won in the Hampden region, taking over a seat that Republicans had held for more than 25 years.

Virginia decriminalizes marijuana

On Thursday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation to decriminalize marijuana. Anyone caught with an ounce or less of marijuana will now face pay a maximum fine of $25. Previously, people could be sentenced to a month in jail and fined up to $500.

"We applaud Governor Northam, his administration, and the legislature for taking this step," said Jenn Michelle Pedini, development director of the pro-legalization group NORML. Pedini added that the group would like to see marijuana legalized and regulated.

The new law takes effect on July 1.

North Carolina celebrates Emergency Medical Services Week

On Tuesday, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper proclaimed May 17-23 Emergency Medical Services Week.

"This year, Emergency Medical Services Week falls in the middle of an unprecedented time," Cooper said in a statement. "As we battle COVID-19, your work is even more critical to our state. Thank you for keeping North Carolina safe through this pandemic and in our everyday lives."

Cooper also released a video thanking the 40,000 emergency medical workers in North Carolina.

Watch: Video of penguins visiting a museum spreads joy

Humboldt penguins from the Kansas City Zoo recently visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the adorable video has been viewed more than a million times since it was released.

"During this shutdown period, our animals really miss having visitors come out and see them," Randy Wisthoff, director of the zoo, says in the video. "The penguins absolutely loved it."