Most notably, the Senate version retains the controversial contested case hearing process. Republicans have argued the hearings needed to be removed, pointing out they have been used to delay past mining projects with citizen lawsuits.
The proposal also eases the deadline for the DNR to approve a mining permit. Under the Assembly bill, projects not acted on in 360 days would be automatically approved. The Senate version allows the applicant and the DNR to agree to extend the permit review for up to 30 days, with no limit on how many times that can be done.
The Senate Select Committee on Mining will hold a hearing on the bill this coming Friday on the UW-Platteville campus. Another hearing is being planned in Ashland, near the site of a proposed open-pit iron ore mine. Supporters of the legislation say it is needed to streamline the approval process for that project.