A federal court stopped voter suppression efforts in Arizona, Illinois is making insulin cheaper, and Michelle Obama won a Grammy.
Colorado lawmakers took the first step this week to abolish the death penalty in the state. Meanwhile, a federal court in Arizona put a stop to some voter suppression efforts in the state, and the Virginia Legislature passed seven gun safety bills in a single day. To top it all off, former first lady Michelle Obama took home a Grammy.
Read on to catch up on this week's wins.
The Colorado Senate voted 19-15 to approve a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state, Denver's ABC-7 reported Thursday.
"This idea that we should say murdering is wrong except when the state does it strikes me as untenable," state Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat and the lead sponsor of the bill, said during the debate on the legislation.
A final vote on the measure passed on Friday, sending the measure to the state House, which the Denver Post reported is expected to pass the bill.
If the bill becomes law, Colorado would be the 22nd state in the country to outlaw the death penalty.
Voter suppression efforts in Arizona were stopped by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, ruling that a 2016 Republican-backed law has "a discriminatory impact on American Indian, Hispanic, and African American voters in Arizona."
The law criminalized many efforts to return absentee, or mail-in, ballots, but the court found that the law was enacted "with discriminatory intent."
"Today marks an important victory for all Arizonans," Herschel Fink, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a statement. The ruling "takes an undue burden off of working families and people of color, making it easier for them to exercise their right to vote."
The lawsuit was initiated by the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Arizona Democratic Party in 2016, according to the Associated Press, while the Arizona Republican Party joined the state of Arizona in defending the law.
Arizona is poised to be a presidential battleground state in November, and will also be home to a marquee Senate race between incumbent Republican Martha McSally and likely Democratic nominee Mark Kelly.
Illinois residents will pay no more than $100 for a 30-day supply of insulin, thanks to a new law signed last Friday by Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker. According to the governor's office, 1.3 million Illinois residents rely on insulin.
"Health care is a right for all, not a privilege and that is why I am so proud that we created an insulin price cap that successfully puts patients above profit," Pritzker said in a statement.
While some other aspects of the law go into effect in January 2021, the insulin pricing requirements go into effect immediately.
The issue of prescription drug prices is a top health concern of most Americans, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. In December, the House of Representatives passed a bill to lower the cost of prescription drugs, but the Senate has yet to address the issue.
Tony Evers, the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, signed an executive order on Wednesday creating the Governor's Task Force on Student Debt.
According to a statement from the governor's office, the task force will assess the issue of student debt among Wisconsin residents, look for strategies to help reduce student debt, and focus on ways to prevent abusive practices by student loan companies.
"We need to address college affordability and ensure that a great education doesn't come at the cost of decades of crippling debt," Evers said in a statement. "Student debt isn't going away any time soon, but this task force will be a meaningful first step in addressing this issue in our state."
Wisconsin Public Radio reported that 2 in 3 Wisconsin college graduates in 2018 have student loan debts in excess of $30,000. Nationally, 45 million people owe roughly $1.6 trillion total in student loan debts.
On Thursday, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a total of seven bills on gun safety, the Washington Post reported, fulfilling a major election promise to tackle the issue of gun violence.
The chamber passed bills on popular provisions such as universal background checks and "red flag" laws to give authorities the ability to temporarily seize guns from a person deemed a threat to themselves or others.
"For too many years this body has put the convenience of gun owners above all else," Democratic Del. Patrick Hope said in a floor speech, according to the Post. "Families are hurting. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired."
The Virginia Senate recently passed five gun safety bills, and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is likely to sign the measures that come to his desk.
Gun safety became a major issue in the 2019 Virginia elections, following a May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach that resulted in 12 deaths. Virginia, home to the NRA, elected enough Democrats in 2019 to obtain a 55-45 majority in the state's House of Delegates, while also electing a Democratic majority in the state Senate.
New Jersey unveiled its "Energy Master Plan" on Monday, calling for 100% clean energy by the year 2050, according to an announcement by the governor.
The plan from Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy included seven different strategies to make it to the clean energy goal. Among them are reducing energy consumption and emissions from automobiles, aiming for greener building and homes, investing in the current power grid to increase efficiencies, and investing in more clean energy jobs.
The plan shows "that we can provide affordable clean power to our homes and businesses, create thousands of good-paying jobs and fight climate pollution all at the same time," Eric Miller, New Jersey policy director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
Former first lady Michelle Obama won her first Grammy Sunday night, winning in the spoken word album category for the audiobook version of her memoir, "Becoming."
The book tells the story of Obama's life, "from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address," according to her publisher.
Obama's husband, President Barack Obama, won Grammys for his memoirs, "Dreams of My Father" (2005) and "The Audacity of Hope" (2007).
Former first lady Hillary Clinton also won a Grammy in 1996 for her "It Takes a Village."