Tennessee's Capitol building recently underwent some renovations and repairs, which included upgraded mechanical systems, some fresh coats of paint, security upgrades, and new carpets.
As it turns out, it also provided the building's janitorial staff with a new mop sink, which caused concern among some Republicans about the intent of the mop sink (thanks to reader J.T. for the tip).
Building managers and legislative staffers have sought to reassure some concerned Tennessee lawmakers that recent renovations at the state Capitol did not install special facilities for Muslims to wash their feet before praying.
"I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men's restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use," Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley wrote in an email. "It is, in layman's terms, a mop sink."
And as the Tennessean explained, "Sometimes a mop sink is just a mop sink."
There was apparently a utility sink that had been mounted higher on the wall, which was moved lower during renovations. "There was concern about why it had been modified," state Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey said.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it had something to do with ease of use -- it's tough to rinse a mop in an elevated sink.
But some Republican lawmakers were concerned the sink might have been moved to accommodate (cue scary music) Muslims, so they wanted an explanation. That two of the lawmakers raising concerns also sponsored an anti-Shariah law measure in 2011 is probably not a coincidence.