News you might have missed: Minnesota voters score double victory


Also: States move to make Juneteenth a paid holiday, and scientists find an inexpensive and widely available drug may help treat COVID-19.

This week began with good news out of the Supreme Court — that LGBTQ Americans cannot be fired simply because of who they are — but beyond the historic decision, there were even more positive developments taking place across the country.

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

Minnesota voters secure two victories ahead of 2020 election

Voters in Minnesota were handed a double victory this week after two policies were overturned.

The first was a ballot-order provision that would have listed Democratic candidates last on all ballots. Studies have shown that ballot order can impact vote share, and a federal judge agreed that arbitrarily forcing Democratic candidates to be listed last on ballots was unfair.

The second policy was a rule on mail-in ballots, which have gained popularity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as voters fear risking their health by casting in-person ballots.

The Minnesota rule required mail-in ballots to be witnessed by a registered Minnesota voter or a notary public and required mail-in ballots to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Those steps could have hampered voters' ability to cast such a ballot or have that ballot counted.

Voting rights advocates reached an agreement with the Minnesota secretary of state to stop enforcing that rule for the upcoming Aug. 11 primary for all offices other than the presidency. (Minnesota held its presidential primary on March 3.)

UK scientists find common steroid reduced deaths in COVID-19 patients

A study by scientists at the University of Oxford has found that the common steroid dexamethasone may help reduce deaths in patients with severe cases of COVID-19.

According to the study, the inexpensive steroid reduced the number of deaths in severely-ill patients who were put on ventilators by one third, the New York Times reported.

The authors of the study concluded that if the drug was being used from the start of the pandemic, as many as 5,000 deaths in the U.K. could have been prevented.

"Assuming that when it goes through peer review it stands — and these are well-established researchers — it’s a huge breakthrough, a major breakthrough," Dr. Sam Parnia, an associate professor of medicine at the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University, told the New York Times. "I cannot emphasize how important this could be."

Virginia and New York move to make Juneteenth a paid holiday

The Democratic governors of Virginia and New York both announced this week that state employees will be given a paid holiday to observe Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced his decision on Tuesday. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Wednesday giving all state employees the day off to observe Juneteenth.

Both governors are also moving to introduce legislation to make Juneteenth an official state holiday next year.

All but four states — Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana — now recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday.

California removes Christopher Columbus statue from state Capitol

California state legislators have announced that a statue of Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella in the Capitol rotunda will be removed, Politico reported Tuesday. The statues were first installed back in 1883.

Protesters across the country have been pushing for the removal of statues of racist figures from America's past, including Confederate generals and soldiers who fought to keep slavery.

Columbus is among those figures protesters say should not be celebrated due to his violence against and enslavement of indigenous people on his voyages across the globe.

Iowa governor to restore voting rights for those with felony convictions

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is set to sign an executive order restoring voting rights to those with felony convictions who have been paroled, the New York Times reported this week.

According to the Times, Iowa is the last state in the country that continues to prevent people with felony convictions from voting.

Back in 2005, then-Gov. Tom Vilsak, a Democrat, restored voting rights to those who had completed their sentences. But former Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, later reversed Vilsak's order in 2011, once again permanently banning those convicted of felonies from voting.

Reynolds has not yet released all the details of her executive order.

Watch: Thousands peacefully protest against systemic racism in Los Angeles

Leaders of the Black LGBTQ community in Los Angeles organized an "All Black Lives Matter" march in Los Angeles on Sunday, during which thousands of protesters peacefully gathered to call for the end of systemic racism.

Demonstrators marched down the famed Hollywood Boulevard, which was painted with a colorful mural that read "All Black Lives Matter" — a play on the Black Lives Matter message painted on a street near the White House.

The mural — which includes the colors of the transgender pride and LGBTQ Pride flags — was originally set to be removed, but Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell ultimately ordered that it be left in place.