The state Senate’s mining committee will consider its own rewrite of Wisconsin mining laws. State Senator Neal Kedzie chairs that chamber’s mining committee and says the Assembly-passed mining bill may be a starting point — but the Senate wants to consider changes. “Obviously, we’ll be having a look at whether or not contested case hearings get reinserted in one shape or another,” says the Elkhorn Republican. Kedzie concedes that’s “a tough issue,” since such hearings were deliberately left out of the Assembly bill. “They should be justified, they shouldn’t be frivolous. So we will look at seeing what is the fairest way to allow for public input, and to potentially raise concerns when they’re necessary and legitimate.”
AUDIO: Senator Neil Kedzie (5:30)
Kedzie says he’s reaching out to the tribes in the area, particularly the Bad River Band, whose reservation is nearest the proposed mine site. “We will be listening to their concerns, we will be having personal meetings,” he says. “We will approach this from the perspective that they have valuable input, they have vested interests in what happens, and we should listen to that.”
The Assembly passed its mining bill largely at the behest of Gogebic Taconite, which proposes a massive open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills region of Iron County. That bill has been seen as a nonstarter in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slight one vote majority.