Assembly Republicans say mining iron ore up north can create thousands of good-paying jobs for many years to come. Representative Mary Williams (R-Medford) is chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Small Business. “When we go into session, what I hear from the other side is ‘you’re not talking about jobs; you’re not talking about jobs’ over and over and over. I finally decided, as chair of the jobs committee, that it was time to do something.”
Even though there’s no bill just yet, Williams wants to hear ideas and concerns about a proposal to dig tons of iron ore from the ancient mountain range in Iron County.
Representative Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee) is confident about the ability of new mining legislation to create jobs across Wisconsin. “Iron mining is gonna be bigger than GM in Janesville; it’s gonna be bigger than Mercury Marine.”
Optimistically speaking, Honadel says the Badger State could see the jobs in a year. “There will be 800 to 1,000 full time jobs at the mine, probably 2,000 to 2,500 ancillary jobs created when the entire operation is running.”
Williams says Thursday’s public hearing in the tiny city of Hurley is a great way to get public input on all sides of the issue, weigh the options, and work on creating legislation. She says their two primary goals are to ensure iron mining is economical and it must have reasonable environmental protections.
Conservationists and outdoors groups want lawmakers to seriously consider the environmental consequences of weakening state mining laws.
Williams says the committee will convene in the Hurley High School auditorium starting at 1:00 on Thursday and will likely continue into the evening. She plans to have more hearings on this issue after legislation is written.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:41