Governor Walker is trying to defuse a rumor that China could wind up owning mining lands in Northern Wisconsin.
Walker's proposed state budget would allow foreign governments or corporations to own more Wisconsin land. Some Democrats, including Green Bay state Senator Dave Hansen wonders if China might buy the iron ore mine planned for Iron and Ashland counties. Some Republican lawmakers are either uncomfortable about possible foreign ownership of farmland or don't want the governor's proposal to be part of the budget bill. Governor Walker says the item is needed to comply with an international trade treaty, but acknowledges his proposal may be amended.
Gov. Walker: "We do a number of things where we update both — in this case — treaties as well as often times federal language in terms of tax codes. It's purely technical, it's not a policy debate that we had. If people have concerns out of that and want to tighten it up, but still be in compliance with some of the treaties we have at the national level, we're more than happy to do that. There's really nothing more to it than that."
Reporter: "So there's not going to be Chinese ownership of mining land?"
Walker: "Not whatsoever. In fact, I can't imagine that GTAC, for all the time and effort they've put in, wouldn't want to be vested in actually constructing and operating that mine. If they were not interested in this, they probably would have pulled out a year ago, about this time."
GTAC is the company that's pushing state lawmakers to pass a bill to ease Wisconsin mining regulations. Final legislative approval of the measure is expected later this week.