September 30, 2014

Assembly set to debate mining bill

A long debate is expected in the state Assembly today, as lawmakers get ready to take up a controversial mining bill.

The Assembly is the last stop for the legislation, which would relax the permitting process for a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. State Representative Fred Clark (D-Sauk City) says the minority plans to address several concerns by pointing out the flaws in the bill and highlighting how the legislation picks “winners and losers” by catering to a single company.

AUDIO: Rep. Fred Clark (:15)

The bill is aimed at helping a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin win state approval. Republicans argue the legislation could bring a $1.5 billion investment to the state and create thousands of jobs. Critics contend the bill relaxes environmental protections and could put the health of the public at risk.

The bill passed in the state Senate last week, but only after hours spent hours debating a dozen amendments offered by Democrats. Clark says a long list of proposed changes is likely in the Assembly as well, although Republicans are unlikely to allow any changes to the bill.

The Assembly is scheduled to start its debate at nine this morning, and will likely be on the floor until much later tonight. If approved, the bill would head to the governor, who is expected to sign it into law.