Hundreds of miles away from a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin, state lawmakers will convene a public hearing this week on a bill designed to streamline the permitting process for the project.
The Assembly Jobs Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday in West Allis on legislation designed to simplify the permitting process for metallic mining in Wisconsin. The bill establishes a two year timeline for the researching and review of mining applications, along with removing the ability of the public to use legal challenges to delay a project before a permit has been issued.
State Representative Mary Williams (R-Medford) says Republicans are taking their time with the bill, which she does not expect to come up for any votes in the Assembly until at least January.
The Committee held a hearing on mining earlier this year in northern Wisconsin. Williams says that provided valuable information about the issue, even if a bill had not yet been introduced. She suggests a state Senate committee formed to tackle the mining issue should hold its own hearing up north as well.
The Senate is not yet on board with the Assembly version of the bill, although Williams remains hopeful an agreement can be reached. Williams says she would be fine with them taking it and ripping it apart, as long as they can work together on a bill that helps the project move ahead.
Republicans argue the bill is needed to attract mining projects and to reduce concerns about an approval process that is currently cost prohibitive and open ended. Critics of the plan say it is full of corporate giveaways and strips away environmental protections.
Wednesday’s hearing at State Fair Park gets underway at 10am.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:13)