Speakers who signed up for the Saturday listening session in Ashland on proposed mining bills buried the Republican version.
Here is the Ashland listening session by the numbers: 350 people attended and 109 spoke. While 116 people didn't give their preference on the Republican or Democratic Senate bills, most of them did. 208 registered favoring the Democratic bill while 19 supported the Republican bill that's moving forward in the legislature. On top of that, 92 registered opposing both bills.
Democratic State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville acknowledged one reason could be that this listening session was called by Democrats.
"There's some of that and I think there's stronger feelings about it in Ashland County because all the water's going to come through Ashland County on its way to Lake Superior, not Iron County. That's why you get a different turnout in Ashland."
Hearings on previous mining bills were held in Iron County. Even so, this no-contest turnout in Ashland also happened at last month's joint legislative public hearing in Madison. 787 people registered against the Republican bills while 98 signed in favor of them. That's 8 to 1 against.
Only one Republican Senator, Dale Schultz, attended the Ashland hearing. Ultimately, it will be the Republican majority that will vote on these bills, but Cullen thinks the public tide has turned.
"I can feel it. There's a changing attitude of the general public all around southern Wisconsin. The feeling in my district in Rock County and I think others are as well."
Cullen doesn't think his Republican colleagues will watch the nearly 10-hour Ashland session in Wisconsin Eye archives, but he does think they are listening.