TPM News

Wisconsin is now undergoing a novel summer election season for the state legislature, with six Republican and three Democratic state senators facing recall elections as a result of the political battle over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation. Indeed, the Republican-controlled state Senate could potentially see a Democratic takeover, depending on how the elections turn out -- and after that, the Dems have vowed to wage a recall drive against Walker himself next year.

So in response, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) says he would like to introduce legislation later this year, making it harder to recall state officials.

To be clear, this could have no effect on the recalls that have already been certified to go. And what's more, the state GOP leaders would be unable to simply pass a bill to get rid of recalls in Wisconsin. The right of recall and the procedures involved are very clearly spelled out in the state constitution, and can only be changed via a long and slow amendment process -- which would require that the legislatures chosen in two consecutive election cycles both pass an amendment by simple majorities in both houses, and then submit the amendment to a statewide referendum.

But that doesn't mean that state GOP leaders wouldn't like to try. And they're even publicly speculating that they could get Dems on board for it, though a Democratic leader is saying quite the opposite.

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Another day, another entry for Rick Santorum's list of liberal conspiracies.

This time Santorum is arguing that the reason so few U.S. students perform well in U.S. history is because of "a conscious effort on the part of the left who has a huge influence on our curriculum, to desensitize America to what American values are so they're more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America."

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The top Mormon in the Democratic party weighed in today on the top two Mormons in the Republican party, both of whom are running for President. And he has a strong preference for one over the other.

Asked by a reporter at his weekly Capitol press conference Tuesday afternoon if the country is ready for a Mormon President, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pivoted to pure Mitt Romney bashing.

"I feel very comfortable that they're not ready for the former Governor of Massachusetts," he said. "In that race, if I had a choice I would favor [Jon] Huntsman over Romney. But I don't have a choice in that race."

Reid explained his stance, challenging Romney's integrity.

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by Marian Wang, ProPublica

The banking industry stands to lose billions in debit card transaction fees after losing one of its biggest lobbying battles this year--but for the banks, that was just Round One. 

The industry had for months lobbied lawmakers to kill or delay regulations limiting the fees that banks get from retailers whenever a debit card is used. Earlier this month, a bill to delay the rules failed to pass in the Senate--disappointing the banks and delighting retailers who will save some revenue to either pocket, pass on to consumers in lower prices, or spend on their businesses some other way.

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by Marian Wang ProPublica

In the wake of Fukushima, story after story has been published about the cozy relationship between Japan's nuclear industry and its regulators: Japanese nuclear regulators extended the use of reactors despite concerns about equipment upkeep and left key safety measures to the initiative of plant operators, as many have reported in the months since.

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Troubled by Gov. Chris Christie's (R) deep cuts to education spending and his push to cut state employees' benefits, a plurality of voters in the Garden State now disapprove of the the governor's job performance, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday.

That finding comes as Christie and his allies in the state legislature are pushing through sweeping changes to public workers' benefits, including a big increase in the amount of money employees must directly pay toward pension and health programs. Those proposed changes prompted hundreds of people to protest outside the State House in recent weeks, and now, it seems they've also dragged down the approval rating of a governor who was once quite popular with his constituents.

In the poll, 47% of registered voters said they disapproved of Christie's job performance, compared to 44% who said they approved of it. Though Christie's approval rating is barely underwater, it's still the worst showing he's ever posted in Quinnipiac's surveys, continuing a downward trend that began most markedly at the start of this year when Christie began to push for deep budget cuts and sweeping changes to public employees' benefits.

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