Unchanged Mining Bill Passes State Senate


Republicans shot down every Democratic amendment during the more than nine-hour debate yesterday.

The result is a bill that is still largely what the industry wanted: it speeds the time line for mining permits and makes it easier for companies to dump waste rock in water. Hazelhurst Republican Tom Tiffany says the bill would lead to good paying jobs in 5-10 years. “This is the first step in the rebirth of the mining industry.”

But Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch said it was a sad day for the state Senate, and the promises of job creation were overblown. “The authors of the bill know that there’s no guarantee that this company is going to mine.”

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Last year, Republican Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center joined with Democrats to block a mining bill. Schultz voted ‘no’ again last night, saying the people he talked to near the proposed mine didn’t want it. “They believe they are being asked to sacrifice their pristine environment, which they know is a sure thing, for the promise of a fictional picture of a prosperous future with a mining economy.” But after Republicans grew their majority in the Senate last November, a Schultz “no” vote was no longer enough to stop the plan.

Republican Senator Robert Cowles of Green Bay had expressed concern over the mining bill and praised Schultz, but ultimately voted in favor. “It still may not be good enough for him, and he’ll articulate that, but I believe this bill is good enough for me.” Cowles was behind amendments added weeks ago that would only let mining companies dump waste rock in the smallest lakes and streams.

The bill heads next to the Assembly, where it’s all but certain to pass and be signed into law by Governor Walker.