Also: Several states take steps to tackle climate change, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death sparks a wave of financial donations to progressive causes.
This week, Americans flocked to register on National Voter Registration Day, the House of Representatives unveiled legislation to curb presidential abuses of power, and the baby panda at the National Zoo had its first check-up.
Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.
The nonpartisan group Vote.org saw twice as many people register to vote Tuesday on National Voter Registration Day compared to registrations on the same day during the 2018 election, CNBC reported.
Several groups said they saw record numbers from young voters. The 30-year-old nonpartisan organization Rock the Vote told CNN it was their biggest their biggest National Voter Registration Day ever.
National Voter Registration Day was established in 2012 as what its official website calls "a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy."
Most of the 135,000 voters registered were women, Vote.org noted, and many of the registrations were from people who were 35 or younger.
CNBC reported that the death of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday may have sparked the uptick in rates of voter registration.
"I do think that the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has galvanized eligible voters, in particular, who understand the role of the Supreme Court and are concerned about the future of civil rights," said Carolyn DeWitt, president of Rock the Vote.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act, aimed at preventing abuses of power by future presidents.
The bill would "prevent future presidential abuses, restore our system of checks and balances, strengthen accountability and transparency, and protect our elections," according to a press release issued by the House Oversight Committee.
"It is time for Congress to strengthen the bedrock of our democracy and ensure our laws are strong enough to withstand a lawless president," said a group of House committee chairs that included Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler of New York and Adam Schiff of California.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $50 million Empire Building Challenge, an initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of existing apartment complexes and high-rise buildings.
The public-private partnership will work on solutions to retrofit older buildings with more energy-efficient cooling and heating systems, as well as cost-effective ways to make windows, doors, furnaces, and boilers more energy-efficient.
"New York is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing renewable energy resources that will grow our economy and advance our nation-leading plan to fight climate change," Cuomo said in a statement about the initiative.
New gas-powered cars will not be sold in California starting in 2035, according to a new executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, NPR reported.
The decision is meant to encourage drivers to switch to electric vehicles, although individuals will still be able to buy and sell used gas-powered cars.
"For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe," Newsom said in a statement. "Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn't make wildfires worse — and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn't melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines."
Democratic candidates and progressive causes raised more than $100 million in the days following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to Democratic fundraising site ActBlue.
Progressive donors donated $6.2 million in the first hour after Ginsburg's death was announced, according to the New York Times, and $6.3 million in the hour after that. Both were new records for ActBlue.
The site's previous hourly fundraising record of $4.3 million was set in August shortly after Joe Biden officially accepted the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
New Jersey took a major step to combat the disproportionate impact of climate change when Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law on Sept. 18 what the National Law Review called "landmark environmental justice legislation."
The new law requires the state's environmental protection department to evaluate the cumulative environmental impact of facilities such as incinerators, landfills, and other industrial facilities would have on "overburdened communities" before issuing permits. The state would be able to deny permits to facilities that have a disproportionate impact on such communities.
The National Law Review called the new law "the most far-reaching environmental justice legislation in the country."
A month after it was born, a baby giant panda at the Washington, D.C., National Zoo received its first exam by vets.
The cub weighed just over two pounds and measured 13.4 inches long "from nose to tail tip."
🐼❤️ Our giant panda cub has reached a big milestone—today marks 1 month since its birth Aug. 21. Over the weekend, Mei Xiang left the den, and an opportunity arose to conduct the cub's first veterinary exam! ✏️ READ THE UPDATE: https://t.co/jRS5TXHhCv. #PandaStory #PandaCubdates pic.twitter.com/Yo8oZa7M1c
— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) September 21, 2020
"All signs point to a healthy and strong cub!" the zoo said.