News you might have missed: New York restores benefits for LGBTQ vets
Also: Oklahoma expands Medicaid and Congress unveils an ambitious climate proposal.
This week, Mississippi dropped a symbol of hate from its state flag, New York City Public Library’s iconic lion statues encouraged people to wear masks, and a coalition set out to recruit tens of thousands of poll workers for the November election.
Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.
LGBTQ veterans denied honorable discharge can now get New York state benefits
Veterans who were denied an honorable discharge because of their gender identity or sexual orientation can now apply to have their veterans benefits restored in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday.
Restoring benefits for LGBTQ veterans “is the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show our appreciation for their service to this country,” Cuomo said in a statement on the final Sunday of Pride Month.
Benefits are being made available thanks to the Restoration of Honor Act, which Cuomo signed into law last November. The law restores eligibility to veterans impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” as well as LGBTQ veterans who were dismissed for other exclusionary policies.
“As we look back on this year’s Pride Month and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City, we must reaffirm our commitment to the LGBTQ rights movement and stand together as one with the LGBTQ community and our veterans,” Cuomo said.
Congress introduces bold climate plan
On Tuesday, House Democrats unveiled a climate plan that would bring the country’s greenhouse gas emissions down to zero by 2050, the Washington Post reported.
The plan — which is more than 500 pages long — includes additional government investment in public transportation, a transition to only electric cars, and mandates for cleaner energy production.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the plan, the work of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, a “bold step for climate action now.”
Pelosi introduced the plan with Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), chair of the Climate Crisis committee.
The plan is not a bill, although Pelosi said she intends to turn the proposals into legislation.
Oklahoma voters expand Medicaid
Oklahoma voters amended the state constitution on Tuesday to expand Medicaid, a change that means 200,000 more residents are now eligible for the health care program.
Oklahoma became the fifth state to expand Medicaid at the ballot box.
“In the middle of a pandemic, Oklahomans stepped up and delivered life-saving care for nearly 200,000 of our neighbors, took action to keep our rural hospitals open, and brought our tax dollars home to protect jobs and boost our local economy,” Amber England, campaign manager for a group supporting the expansion, said in a statement after the measure passed.
The state will expand Medicaid starting on July 1, 2021.
Group aims to recruit 250,000 poll workers for November election
A group of businesses and nonprofit organizations have joined forces to ensure smooth elections in November by recruiting 250,000 poll workers, CNN reported on Tuesday.
The group, called “Power the Polls,” aims to recruit younger workers — though not exclusively — given older Americans are at higher risk of complications from the coronavirus, and poll workers in the past have skewed older.
Technology is also a factor in that decision.
“In polling locations, there is a real need for folks who are comfortable with technology,” Mike Ward, vice president of voter engagement at Democracy Works, told CNN. “That youth factor helps ensure that every piece of tech in the polling site can be used to its potential.”
The groups behind “Power the Polls” include Comedy Central, Fair Elections Center, Levi Strauss & Co., Patagonia, Time To Vote, MTV, and Uber.
Mississippi drops Confederate symbol from state flag
Mississippi lawmakers voted on Sunday to change the state flag, which currently includes the Confederate battle emblem.
The House voted 91-23 to remove the flag. The state Senate followed suit by a margin of 37-14.
“Let’s do this because it’s the right thing to do,” Democratic Sen. David Jordan said prior to the vote.
Gov. Tate Reeves signed the legislation on Tuesday. A commission will develop a new flag design, which will be put before voters on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Lion statues outside NYC Public Library wear masks
The massive lion statues outside of the New York Public Library donned masks this week to encourage New Yorkers to do the same, in an attempt to slow the ongoing pandemic, CBS News reported on Tuesday.
The lions, named Patience and Fortitude, are wearing 3-foot long masks made of special material that will not damage the statues.
New Yorkers “must remain vigilant, we must have patience and fortitude, and we must follow what experts tell us, especially as we continue to reopen our cities,” Anthony W. Marx, NYPL president, said in a statement. “The lions, protectors of knowledge and truth who have seen 109 years worth of history, are setting that example.”
Watch: Broadway hit Hamilton to air July 3 on Disney+
The hit musical Hamilton will air Friday on Disney+, Disney’s subscription streaming service, as Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day.
Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founders who fought with George Washington in the Revolutionary War and went on to become the nation’s first Treasury secretary.
The footage for the film comes from three days of performances in June 2016.
Hamilton won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, as well as a Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy, and a Billboard Music Award.
216 Republicans vote to undo student loan relief for 43 million Americans
The House has passed a resolution that would cancel President Joe Biden's student debt relief plan.By Emily Singer - May 25, 2023
$42 billion in loans to teachers, nurses, service members forgiven under Biden
Some 615,000 public servants have benefitted from the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.By Oliver Willis - May 08, 2023
White House says Biden would veto House Republicans’ proposed anti-trans legislation
A bill proposed by Rep. Greg Steube that would ban some trans youth from playing sports is being considered in the House, although it is unlikely to be considered in the Democratic-controlled Senate.By Will Fritz - April 19, 2023