News you might have missed: Michelle Obama school lunch program wins in court
Also: Virginia has a new law defending reproductive health, and former President Barack Obama endorses a friend.
Also this week, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced bold voting rights legislation, and an iconic independent bookstore was saved by an outpouring of donations.
Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.
Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch standards upheld in court
On Monday, a federal court rejected a 2018 attempt by the Agriculture Department to reverse school nutrition guidelines that former first lady Michelle Obama fought for, the New York Times reported.
In 2012, the Obama administration implemented a rule to ensure schools lowered the level of sodium in meals in stages on a yearly basis through the 2022-23 school year. The rule also required schools to use more whole grains in meals.
The Trump administration tried to reverse those requirements, but in a way that procedurally was not lawful, according to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The court found that the final rule put forward by the Trump administration “is not a logical outgrowth of the interim final rule, so it must be vacated.”
In other words, the administration “did not give the public proper notice of what it intended to do in rolling back the standards,” said Karianne Jones of Democracy Forward, a legal group that represented organizations suing to stop the rollback of the standards.
During her time in the White House, Obama led a “Let’s Move!” campaign that focused on helping children live healthier lives through both nutritious food and physical activity.
Reproductive Health Protection Act becomes law in Virginia
On April 10, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Reproductive Health Protection Act into law.
The law repeals previous anti-abortion restrictions such as a mandatory ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period between seeking an abortion and obtaining the procedure, according to a press release from Northam’s office.
“No more will legislators in Richmond — most of whom are men — be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies,” Northam said in a statement. “The Reproductive Health Protection Act will make women and families safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law.”
The legislation was originally sponsored in the state Senate by Sen. Jennifer McClellan and in the state House by Majority Leader Charniele Herring.
Kamala Harris introduces sweeping voting rights legislation
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Thursday introduced the VoteSafe Act, a proposal to expand safe voting access before the 2020 election, Rolling Stone reported.
The $5 billion plan would ensure a standard early-voting period for every state, require states to allow no-excuse absentee voting (voting by mail) for the 2020 election, and help states make voting more accessible to disabled people, indigenous tribes, and those for whom English is not their first language.
The bill “is about making sure that in our country, no one should have to decide about their right to vote versus their health,” Harris said.
“I think that there are these moments of a crisis that give us the courage and encouragement to try something that actually may be better than how we were doing it before,” she added.
Minnesota law helps those struggling to pay for insulin
On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, signed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act into law.
The legislation allows eligible people to obtain a 30-day supply of insulin in an emergency for a $35 co-pay once in a 12-month period. It also allows those who are eligible to receive a 90-day supply of insulin for a co-pay no greater than $50.
“We’ve struggled to make insulin affordable to folks who, through no fault of their own, need insulin to survive,” Walz said in a statement. “We fought a battle with special interests and fought a battle sometimes against ourselves and our politics. But today is a day to rejoice because it’s the law of the land.”
The legislation is named after a 26-year-old man who died after he was unable to afford the insulin he needed to survive, which cost him $1,300 a month.
Washington eliminates sales tax on menstrual products
On April 3, Washington became the 18th state to eliminate sales taxes on menstrual products, the Daily of the University of Washington reported.
The bill was passed unanimously by the state Senate, and by a 95-2 vote in the state House of Representatives.
“We got a lot of support from both parties,” Reem Sabha, a member of the Washington Tampon Tax Task Force and graduate student at the University of Washington, told the Daily. “With more Republican legislators, if we framed it as a tax repeal, making the tax code less regressive, it was a very compelling argument for them.”
The law goes into effect on July 1.
Beloved San Francisco bookstore will survive thanks to massive donations
An iconic San Francisco bookstore will remain open after receiving almost half a million dollars in donations, the Guardian reported.
City Lights, which first opened its doors in 1953, appealed for help through a GoFundMe campaign, saying it was struggling to survive during the coronavirus crisis. The bookstore played an important role in the careers of authors such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the Press Herald reported, and remains popular with progressive artists and thinkers in the city.
As of Friday morning, the bookstore had raised more than $475,000 through the effort.
The response “has been utterly astonishing and much appreciated,” Nancy Peters, co-owner of City Lights, wrote on the company’s website. “I’m overcome with gratitude when I see the names of people I know, the customers I’ve met only briefly at the bookstore, and the beautiful strangers from all over this stricken and chaotic world.”
Barack Obama’s endorsement of Biden breaks the internet
On Tuesday, former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden for president in a video that quickly went viral.
“Over the past weeks, we’ve seen plenty of examples of the kind of courage, kindness, and selflessness that we’re going to need to get through one of the most difficult times in our history,” Obama said. He described Biden, his former vice president, as “guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace.”
I’m proud to endorse my friend @JoeBiden for President of the United States. Let's go: https://t.co/maHVGRozkX
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 14, 2020
Twitter announced the video was viewed 1 million times in just the first 40 minutes after it was posted.
Obama’s endorsement was preceded on Monday by an endorsement of Biden by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and followed on Wednesday by an endorsement by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Physicians group drags DeSantis with billboard warning Florida travelers of abortion bans
The Committee to Protect Health Care hopes its billboard will make people think about how Florida's restrictive abortion law could impact their health care.By Rebekah Sager - June 02, 2023
Prominent Colorado abortion provider calls Dobbs decision ‘throwback to another century’
Dr. Warren Hern, who has performed thousands of abortions in nearly 50 years of practice, says, 'This is the worst situation I've seen in this country in my life.'By Rebekah Sager - June 01, 2023
Nebraska expected to pass combo bill on abortion, gender-affirming care for minors
Conservatives in the one-house Nebraska Legislature announced early this month that they would amend the trans health bill to squeeze in the abortion restrictions, combining the two most contentious measures of the session.By Associated Press - May 20, 2023