Also: Congress passes a bill to create a national suicide hotline, transgender individuals win a lawsuit over locker room policies, and California passes a law to mandate more diversity on corporate boards.
This week, New Jersey passed a law to ban plastic bags, a bipartisan Senate bill gives better work-life balance to federal firefighters battling wildfires, and a kindergarten teacher is earning praise for her upbeat virtual lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.
Support for the Affordable Care Act — former President Barack Obama's signature achievement, which expanded access to health insurance nationwide and protected people from being denied coverage for having preexisting conditions — is now at a record high, according to a Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday.
A whopping 62% of voters support it — up 7 points this year alone.
The rise in support for the law comes as Senate Republicans rush to confirm Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, who has expressed opposition to the law. The Supreme Court will be hearing a case to invalidate Obamacare just after the election, when Barrett could help overturn the law and cause millions of Americans to lose their insurance coverage.
A ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals said a local school district violated a transgender student's rights when it prevented him from using the boys' locker room, even though he identifies as a boy — forcing him instead to use a segregated locker room.
The ruling said the school district violated the student's equal protection rights, saying that schools are required to let transgender students use the locker room of the gender they identify with.
The ruling is a win for transgender rights advocates, who have been battling against discriminatory bathroom and locker room laws.
The House on Monday passed a law to create a national suicide hotline, sending the bill to Donald Trump's desk for signature.
Aside from creating a three-digit phone number for the hotline, the bill also mandates training for hotline counselors so that they understand issues within the LGBTQ community — a group that has been hit especially hard with mental health struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The House also passed four other bills pertaining to mental health, including one that authorizes grants to support mental health counseling for first responders.
"Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 1.4 million American adults making at least one attempt each year," reads a statement from the Democratic chairs of the House committees that worked on the legislation. "Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating profound distress and triggering depression for millions across the country, the House today passed five bills that collectively treat suicide like the public health emergency it is."
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Wednesday that requires corporations in the state to increase the number of people of color on their boards, an effort to increase representation in the business world to help combat systemic inequality, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the Los Angeles Times' report:
The law requires some 625 publicly held corporations headquartered in California to include at least one person from an underrepresented community by the end of next year, with additional appointments required in future years.
"When we talk about racial justice, we talk about empowerment, we talk about power, we need to talk about seats at the table," Newsom said at a bill signing ceremony, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill last week that would let federal firefighters switch shifts without being penalized, giving the first responders more flexibility to take time off for being sick or other pressing matters, the Federal Times reported.
Currently, federal firefighters — who are on the front lines of the wildfires that have destroyed large swaths of the West Coast — cannot swap shifts with other workers, and instead are forced to take leave, according to the Federal Times. That's even if another firefighter is able to take their shift.
Those same rules do not apply to state and local firefighters.
"This bill would correct a decades-long disparity and ensure that federal firefighters can continue serving our communities while balancing their home and work lives," Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), one of the bill's co-sponsors, said in a news release.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many schools shuttered, forcing teachers to adapt their teaching to virtual platforms.
One teacher in Washington State, Mackenzie Adams, went viral, thanks to her upbeat teaching style, where she helps keep her students entertained during their online learning session.
It's a heartwarming video showing just how much teachers care about their students and the lengths they are going to make sure they are continuing to learn amid a public health crisis.