Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald disbands his chamber’s mining committee, and urges passage of the Assembly’s mining bill. Fitzgerald releases a statement to that effect Wednesday afternoon:
“A new mine in Northern Wisconsin has the potential to bring thousands of jobs and real economic relief to an area of Wisconsin that desperately needs it. Wisconsin needs jobs, not politics, and Republicans will continue to fight to get our economy back on its feet.
“Over the past five months, the Select Committee on Mining has taken a close look at a wide range of issues surrounding a potential mine in Northern Wisconsin, and they have heard from a wide range of voices. But we can’t allow the clock to run out on a project that could mean a generation of good-paying jobs and revitalize an entire local economy.
“Sadly, we’re stuck in a hyper-political world where the Democrats are likely to say and do anything to oppose this jobs bill, just for the sake of opposing it. I’m glad to be among leaders in Madison willing to work through distraction and discord to keep job creation as the top goal for Wisconsin.”
Northern Wisconsin Democrat Bob Jauch, whose district includes the site of a proposed iron ore mine, was a member of the now disbanded committee. “It looks to me like Senator Fitzgerald wants to ram this bill through the Senate, without making the kinds of changes that would result in making it a truly responsible piece of legislation.” Jauch says Fitzgerald’s decision does a disservice to the committee’s chair, Senator Neal Kedzie. “Senator Kedzie hasn’t even had a chance to look at the issue.”
Kedzie, who released a Senate version of mining legislation earlier this week, had scheduled a public hearing for Friday at UW-Platteville, now not happening. He releases a statement:
“A few months ago, a decision was made to create a special committee to review and discuss issues relating to Wisconsin’s mining law. Today, a decision has been made which reflects the majority of members in the Senate Republican caucus to change course and move the Assembly legislation and a Senate companion bill through another standing committee. As a caucus, we need to move forward on this issue before the legislative session comes to a close.”
The Joint Finance Committee will take up the Assembly bill. Senator Alberta Darling co-chairs that panel. “We think the Assembly has passed a good bill. Let’s look at that bill and build on it, versus starting from scratch. The Kedzie bill was never the Senate position,” she says.
AUDIO: Senators Jauch, Darling (11:30)
Jauch predicted “several thoughtful Republicans in the state Senate” will have a hard time supporting the Assembly bill. Republicans hold a narrow 17-16 majority in the Senate. Kedzie, commenting to WisconsinEye, does not say whether he would support the Assembly bill, which passed that chamber without a single Democratic vote, but Republican Senator Dale Schultz tells the Associated Press that he can’t support it.