A state Assembly committee advances a bill aimed at getting an iron mine up and running in northern Wisconsin. The big item of contention, an amendment which allocates sixty percent of a tax on mine profits to local governments, and forty percent to the state. “Why are we not answering the needs of the local community in this amendment?” asks state Representative Louis Molepske. “Why do we need to skim off forty percent for the state coffers?” The Stevens Point Democrat says that’s not what locals want, based on a public hearing in Hurley. “People supporting the idea of a mine in the local, absolutely flat-out said no, we do not support a sixty forty split.”
AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:15)
But Greendale Republican Jeff Stone says mine revenues are no different from how income and sales taxes are handled. “Those go into a pot, and then they come to Madison and we figure out how to use that general purpose revenue, and that’s what will happen here,” says Stone. “But I think the state will have some questions about the impacts of the mine, and I’m sure that as we move into the future we’ll be addressing those impacts, and we’ll be having some discussions as to how to allocate those dollars.”
The legislation, which rewrites and streamlines the process for granting mine permits in Wisconsin, is expected to pave the way for a massive open-pit iron ore mine proposed by Gogebic Taconite in the Penokee Range area of Iron County. The amended version of the bill (AB 426) passed the Assembly jobs committee on a 9-to-5 vote Tuesday, and now heads to the full Assembly for a vote on Thursday.