TPM News

Wisconsin's Capitol building has "always been open to state legislators, to come and go as they please," state Representative Nick Milroy (D), the lawmaker who was tackled by Wisconsin Capitol Police on Thursday night, told TPM in an interview on Friday.

But this week, he says, has been different.

All tackling aside, Milroy's Capitol key card was disabled on Monday, and he doesn't know when it will work again -- leaving him unable to access the building freely, as he used to do.

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House Speaker John Boehner announced plans Friday afternoon to defend the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of Congress, filling the legal void left by the White House's decision to drop its support for portions of the law.

"I will convene a meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group for the purpose of initiating action by the House to defend this law of the United States, which was enacted by a bipartisan vote in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton," Boehner said in a statement. "It is regrettable that the Obama Administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy. The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts -- not by the president unilaterally -- and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution."

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The Arizona State Senate is considering a bill to introduce specialty license plates with the Gadsden Flag phrase turned Tea Party slogan, "Don't Tread On Me," with funds generated by those plates going to promote the Tea Party in ways well beyond car bumpers.

As the Arizona Daily Star noted Thursday, the state Senate is considering a bill that would create a license plate depicting the Gadsden Flag's iconic image, a coiled snake on a yellow background, complete with the "Don't Tread On Me" tag line. Similar specialty plates have been proposed in Virginia, Nevada, and South Carolina, while Texas has already approved creating such a license plate.

Yet what's interesting about this particular plate is that the money generated from its sale would be used specifically to fund tea party causes.

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Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused in the January shooting spree in Tucson, was indicted on additional federal murder charges by a grand jury yesterday for allegedly murdering "participants at a federally provided activity," the Justice Department announced Friday.

The news out of the 49-count superseding indictment is that Loughner is now charged with the murder of non-federal employees who were participating in the event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) back in January.

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One of the people running to replace now-Governor Scott Walker as Milwaukee County Executive is a Republican state assemblyman who voted for Walker's plan to eliminate collective bargaining for public workers.

He's already regretting that.

"I understand it's a major issue to the unions," Jeff Stone said, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "It's not necessarily the way I would have drafted this budget-repair bill. I would have approached it in different ways."

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After hearing that State Senate Republicans had issued a resolution calling for his arrest, along with 13 AWOL Wisconsin Dems, Chris Larson (D) said the state GOP is creating a 'police state.'

On MSNBC's The Last Word Thursday night, Larson had an intense debate with GOP State Sen. Glenn Grothman, who had appeared on the show earlier in the week calling some protestors in the capitol building "slobs."

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It's been a busy few weeks for Sharia-fearing Americans. Tennessee recently introduced a bill that would ban the practice of Sharia - and perhaps by extension, the practice of Islam itself. Elsewhere, anti-Sharia groups battled for supremacy outside the White House, and Missouri filed legislation to outlaw the use of Sharia law in its courts. Now, it appears Alabama is getting into the game.

State Sen. Gerald Allen (R ) has introduced a constitutional amendment, SB 62, that would forbid the use of Islamic law in the state's courts.

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In an amusing footnote to the Wisconsin protests, a Walker administration official is now backing away from another official's dire warning that millions and millions of dollars in damage had been done to the Capitol over weeks of protests. Furthermore, it appears that no professional estimate has actually been done.

On Thursday, as part of the litigation over the state's attempts to restrict public access to the Capitol, the Department of Administration's legal counsel claimed that repairing the damage done to the building -- mainly from adhesive tape used to affix posters to the marble walls -- would add up to $7.5 million. However, it was not clear how these estimates were made.

On Thursday night, Dane County Judge John Albert ruled that the daytime restrictions on Capitol access must be lifted, while also ordering protesters to leave when the building closes at night. And now, the state's facilities administrator -- a former moderate Dem state senator who joined the Walker administration -- is backing away from those high cost estimates.

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It's often been said that Mitt Romney has a talent for remaking himself in the image of whatever electorate he's hoping to impress. When the goal was the governor's office in Massachusetts in 2002, Romney was pro-choice. When the goal became the Republican presidential nomination, Romney was pro-life.

Romney's ability to change his political stripes to suit the situation has been a key to his success. There's little doubt that he got as close to the nomination in 2008 as he did because he was able to convince a broad swath of conservative voters he was one of them. But according to one of the men who helped him make his case back then -- asked by National Journal to muse on Romney's next presidential bid -- Romney lost something important when he shifted to meet the conservative base head on: his credibility.

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