Testy, Timed Interactions At Mining Hearing


The first, and likely the only public hearing on a rewrite of Wisconsin’s mining laws got off to a rocky start this morning in Madison.

When Republican Assembly Representative Mary Williams laid out the rules at the start of this hearing, there were quite a few more than usual: “There will be no yielding of time, threats, singing, chanting, dancing, yelling, disruptions, instruments, props, inappropriate gestures, saving of seats, profanity, costumes, interpretive dance or any behavior deemed offensive or inappropriate by committee chairs.”

But it was the time limits that Williams enforced on people speaking and on her fellow lawmakers that created the most stir. As Racine Senate Democrat John Lehman was cut off, he was outraged. “Madam Chairman, this is unheard of in the legislature where you do not allow a legislator to ask a public question from the authors of a bill. This is unheard of.”

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As far as testimony goes, the mining company GTAC said it would start working on a permit if this bill passes, but that it would not test the ground for potentially toxic sulfides unless the bill passed. Experts also confirmed that the bill would exempt mining companies from environmental standards on a mining site and would permit mitigation where a company could fill in a wetland in exchange for building another one elsewhere.