A Republican state senator’s continued opposition to a mining bill appears to doom the measure. Changes to the Assembly passed measure are offered by Republican leadership – including allowing public comments the through a contested case hearing, after a mining permit has been issued. “This contested case process is very similar to what happens in other states, so it should not be something that we look at as an impediment to protecting the environment, in fact I think it really enhances our chances to do that, says Representative Robin Vos.
State Senator Dale Schultz is opposing this latest offer from Vos and Finance Committee co-chair, Senator Alberta Darling. He notes current state mining law allows for contested case hearings before permits are issued. “By doing it beforehand, you provide an opportunity for people to challenge the decision making that has already occurred, and you can actually improve a mining permit with the addition of new ideas,” says Schultz. “I would say the compromise they just offered is no compromise at all. In fact, it makes a bad idea worse.” Schultz says the Assembly mining bill represents “a rushed attempt” to force through policy which could have impacts beyond the proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.
The Joint Finance Committee is expected to vote on the bill Monday, even though Schultz’s opposition would appear to mean it has no chance of passing the state Senate. Schultz and Senator Bob Jauch have offered their own version of a compromise to the Assembly bill, but GOP leadership has rejected that.
“I think the people of Wisconsin deserve a vote,” says Vos. “I think that a vote should happen in the state Senate, so that every single Wisconsinite can know who’s for bringing jobs in and who isn’t”
Gogebic Taconite proposes a massive open-pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin’s Penokee Range – and has requested a rewrite of that law regarding the permitting process.
AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (1:05)
UPDATE: The Joint Finance Committee Monday passes the amendment from Senator Darling and Representative Vos, containing 22 changes to the mining bill (AB 426/SB 488). “I would hope we could get to a resolution on this, but I’m afraid there’s divergent paths that simply will not allow that to happen,” says Senator Jauch.