News you might have missed: Wyoming makes it easier for Native Americans to vote


Solar energy capacity soared in 2019, and Minnesota took steps to ensure grocery store workers can receive free child care.

Even in the middle of a crisis, there are bits of good news.

In towns and cities across the country, everyday people are coming up with innovative ways to support neighbors, children, and small businesses impacted by the global pandemic.

Maryland took a step forward on gun safety, and Kansas Democrats implemented a plan to ensure everyone can vote.

Yo-Yo Ma shared a moving video dedicated to frontline health care workers.

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

Wyoming makes it easier for Native Americans to vote

The governor of Wyoming signed legislation supported by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to clarify laws surrounding the use of tribal IDs to register to vote, KPVI reported March 13.

The law now allows a tribal ID to be used as identification to register, so long as the ID has either a driver's license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number printed on it.

"What this bill does is provide clear expectations to the tribes, every county and the state regarding tribal IDs," state Rep. Andi Clifford (D) told KPVI.

Tribal leaders would have preferred that Native Americans be allowed to use a tribal ID without additional information, but "we kind of met halfway to some degree on this," said Eastern Shoshone Business Council co-chair Karen Snyder.

Maryland approves background checks on all rifles

Both chambers of the Maryland Legislature have approved a bill to require background checks on all purchases of rifles and shotguns, the Jurist reported on Wednesday.

The new law would extend the background check requirement to private sales and permanent gifts, in addition to purchases from licensed dealers. The bill passed the House of Delegates by an 87-47 vote, and the state Senate by a 31-14 margin.

If Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, signs the bill, it would go into effect on Oct. 1.

Minnesota provides free child care to grocery store workers

Grocery store workers in Minnesota are now classified as emergency personnel, according to the state's Democratic governor, NBC News reported on Thursday.

Through an executive order, Gov. Tim Walz declared that store clerks, stockers, food preparation personnel, cleaning staff, and deli staff at grocery stores are now "Emergency Tier 2" workers. The declaration allows those workers to qualify for free child care provided by the state.

Kansas will mail ballots to every Democrat in the state for its primary

The Kansas Democratic Party will mail a primary ballot to every registered Democrat in the state ahead of the May 2 primary, according to a March 17 press statement.

The party will mail the ballots on March 30, and voters will be able to fill them out and mail them back. Ballots must be postmarked by Friday, April 24, or they may be dropped off at the voter's polling location on Saturday, May 2, between 10 a.m and 4 p.m. Central Time.

The Kansas Democratic Party "is committed to doing our part to keep our party members, candidates, elected officials, and the public at large safe during this uncertain time," Vicki Hiatt, who serves as chair, said in a statement.

Voters can still vote in person on May 2, but the party is encouraging people to take advantage of the vote-by-mail option.

Voter turnout this week was higher than 2016

More Democrats cast ballots in Arizona and Florida the primary this week than in 2016, another sign that voter enthusiasm is high going into the 2020 election.

Illinois, which also voted on Tuesday along with Florida and Arizona, showed a slight decline in voter turnout this year.

Former Vice President Joe Biden won all three states, besting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and effectively cementing the nomination.

Democrats in Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming are scheduled to vote on April 4, followed by Wisconsin on April 7.

Solar accounted for 40% of new electricity capacity in 2019

The U.S. solar industry accounted for more new energy capacity in 2019 than wind and gas, according to recent analysis by global energy consultant group Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

PV Magazine first reported the findings on Tuesday.

According to last year's U.S. Solar Market Insight report, solar providers installed panels accounting for 23% more energy production than in 2018. Solar also accounted for "nearly 40% of all new electricity generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2019."

Total solar capacity in the U.S. now exceeds 76 gigawatts, compared to just one gigawatt in 2009.

Yo-Yo Ma performs song dedicated to health care workers

On Monday, Grammy-award winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed part of a Bach cello suite that he dedicated to health care workers.

"This is for the healthcare workers on the frontlines — the Sarabande from Bach's Cello Suite No. 3," Ma wrote in a tweet accompanying the video. "Your ability to balance human connection and scientific truth in service of us all gives me hope."

Ma has filmed himself performing other short pieces, referring to the effort as Songs of Comfort.

"Music always has been comforting to me, this is what I do, and this is the best that I can offer," Ma told PBS News Hour. "And I know many people are doing everything they can from what they know. And this is just something that I can do."

Check back next week for more news you might have missed.