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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he would introduce legislation to make Juneteenth — a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. — a paid, state holiday.

Why it matters: Virginia is home to Richmond, which was once the capital of the Confederacy.

  • 47 states recognize Juneteenth as a normal state holiday, but legislation to declare it a national holiday has repeatedly stalled in Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • Northam said recognition would start this year with a paid day off on Juneteenth for executive branch employees, and that he would propose legislation to expand the paid state holiday to schools, courts and local governments.
  • "[Juneteenth] matters now because it says to the black community, this is not just your history, this is everyone's shared history, and we recognize it together," Northam said. "This symbol, this holiday, is one step toward reconciliation."

The big picture: Northam's efforts to reduce Confederate iconography in Virginia have accelerated in the weeks of protests that followed the killing of George Floyd.

  • On June 4, Northam announced that the state would remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Go deeper: Juneteenth grows across the U.S.

Go deeper

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President Trump signed an executive order on Friday to denounce protesters that have vandalized Civil War and World War II monuments, although most statues that have been torn down in recent weeks have been symbols of the Confederacy.

The big picture: Black Lives Matter protests against police violence and racism have exacerbated a long-standing debate about the place for and relevancy of Confederate-era monuments and iconography.

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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order Thursday requiring all Texans to wear a face covering in public in counties with 20 or more positive coronavirus cases.

Why it matters: It's a stark reversal for the Republican governor that underscores the seriousness of the outbreak in Texas, which set a single-day record on Wednesday with more than 8,000 confirmed new cases. On June 3, Abbott issued an executive order banning local governments from imposing fines on people who don't wear masks in public.

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Top business leaders urge White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines

A man walks past a Ramen restaurant in Los Angeles, California on July 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings would "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.