Politics & Government

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The health care law, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. Whatever you call it, five years after President Obama signed the law, it remains polarizing.

Senate Republican Dan Coats of Indiana announced Tuesday — probably surprising no one — that he would not seek another term in 2016. Although he has been a stalwart Republican through a turbulent generation in Washington, Coats seems less at home in the hyper-partisan world of Congress today.

While Coats, 71, said his decision was strictly personal and age-related, he did refer to the "terribly dysfunctional Senate" in an interview with the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter.

As Wisconsin lawmakers grapple with their biggest challenge this year – balancing the state budget – they face another hefty project.

They plan to rework the state’s campaign finance laws, covering everything from how much people can contribute to candidates, to whether donors’ names should be made public. Some of the laws are considered outdated. A few are unconstitutional. Legislators dug into the topic Tuesday, inviting experts to testify before a new joint committee in Madison.

The U.S. Supreme Court called a district court ruling that upheld Alabama's redistricting plan, which overloaded some districts with black Democrats, "legally erroneous." In a 5-to-4 ruling, the justices rejected the ruling and sent it back to the lower court.

When you vote on April 7, you’ll find two items on the ballot related to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The race for justice features Incumbent Ann Walsh Bradley and challenger James Daley. The second item will ask voters how the high court should select its chief justice. A change that would amend the state constitution.

The Supreme Court hears a challenge Wednesday to Obama administration rules aimed at limiting the amount of mercury and other hazardous pollutants emitted from coal- and oil-fired utility plants. The regulations are being challenged by major industry groups like the National Mining Association and more than 20 states.

The regulations have been in the works for nearly two decades. Work on them began in the Clinton administration, got derailed in the George W. Bush administration, and then were revived and adopted in the Obama administration.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And we're going to talk more now about the decision to keep about 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of this year. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman is here in the studio.

Welcome, Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

It might not sound newsworthy that Charleston, S.C., is getting a new mayor next year. But the last time the city elected a new mayor was 40 years ago, in December 1975.

California's system of direct democracy — the voter initiative process — has produced landmark laws reducing property taxes, banning affirmative action and legalizing medical marijuana.

Now there's a bid to declare that "the people of California wisely command" that gays and lesbians can be killed.

You read that right.

The "Sodomite Suppression Act," as proposed, calls sodomy "a monstrous evil" that should be punishable "by bullets to the head or any other convenient method."

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