A key legislative committee has signed-off on a bill that would make it easier for a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin to win state approval. The Joint Finance Committee approved the proposal Monday on a 12-4 party line vote.
Majority Republicans rejected six amendments from Democrats, which state Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) argued were needed to put the needs of the public ahead of a mining company. Mason said the GOP seems “hell bent on going forward with a deeply flawed bill that won’t create any jobs, other than the lawyers who are going to be litigating this for many years to come.”
Democrats frequently claimed the bill strips away key environmental protections, which JFC co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) argued is not true. Darling says the bill does not change existing air and water quality standards in state law and criticized Democrats for “making generalizations that imply we’re just disregarding all these environmental safeguards in the best interest of a mine.”
Democratic amendments targeted language in the bill ranging from fees collected during the permitting process to taxes on material coming out of the ground, all of which were voted down by the Republican-controlled committee. The proposal now heads to the state Senate, where it’s expected to come up for a vote on Wednesday.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:14)