Majority leader dismantles senate mining committeeSenate majority leader dismantles mining committee, moves along Assembly passed legislation
A committee created to consider drafting a mining bill for the senate was disbanded one day after the first draft of the bill was released.
Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau announced today he was dissolving the Senate Select Committee on Mining Jobs and referring the Assembly mining bill, which passed on party lines, to the Joint Finance Committee.
The senate majority leader said the goal behind dismantling the committee was to ensure mining legislation can pass before the end of the session.
That move brought immediate reaction from one of its Democratic members, Sen. Bob Jauch of Poplar.
“I’m shocked and disgusted with the callous elimination of a mining committee that was taking the time to create a transparent process and openly deliberate changes to Wisconsin’s mining law,” Jauch said in a prepared statement.
For almost a year, Jauch said he has worked toward responsible legislation that would establish a mining regulatory process that is fair and flexible for every applicant but protects the public interest. I have offered constructive suggestions to streamline the bureaucratic process while avoiding weakening of the environmental standards.
“I have been willing to seek compromise to achieve a responsible bill,” Jauch said. “After all, if one supports responsible mining they ought to support a responsible mining law.”
However, Fitzgerald said his decision to disband the committee was based on getting the bill passed before time runs out.
“Over the past five months, the Select Committee on Mining has taken a close look at a wide range of issues surrounding a potential mine in Northern Wisconsin, and they have heard from a wide range of voices,” Fitzgerald said. “But we can’t allow the clock to run out on a project that could mean a generation of good-paying jobs and revitalize an entire local economy.
“A new mine in Northern Wisconsin has the potential to bring thousands of jobs and real economic relief to an area of Wisconsin that desperately needs it. Wisconsin needs jobs, not politics, and Republicans will continue to fight to get our economy back on its feet.”
It is sadly apparent that Senator Fitzgerald doesn’t believe in open government as his decision to disband the committee will disenfranchise hundreds of citizens eager to testify at the Platteville and Ashland hearings, Jauch said.
“Senator Fitzgerald created the mining committee to consider responsible legislation. His reliance of a nuclear option to destroy this committee just might eliminate the chance for any mining bill to pass the Senate,” the Poplar Democrat said.
“I commend Sen. Neal Kedzie on taking the extra time needed to make sure he was doing what was in the best interest of the State of Wisconsin. It is too bad that Senator Fitzgerald continues to prove he doesn’t share that sentiment,” said Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller of Monona.
Kedzie, a Republican from Elkhorn, served as chairman of the committee on mining jobs.