Senate Republicans change course, move ahead with Assembly's version of mining billMajority Republicans in the state Senate have disbanded a special committee that was studying a rewrite of Wisconsin's mining laws.
By: By Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Majority Republicans in the state Senate have disbanded a special committee that was studying a rewrite of Wisconsin's mining laws. They're going to forge ahead with the Assembly's mining bill instead.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald announced the surprise move in a written statement, citing timing as part of the reason. The legislative session ends next month.
“We can't allow the clock to run out,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald will instead refer the mining bill that already passed the Assembly to the legislature's Joint Committee on Finance, where Senate Republican co-chair Alberta Darling echoed some of the same points.
"We're at the point where we've got to decide are we going to go or no go,” she said. “And so we think the Assembly has passed a good bill. Let's look at that bill and let's build on it."
The move was a shock to Poplar Democratic Senator Bob Jauch, whose district would be home to the proposed mine this bill is being written for. Jauch blasted Republicans for changing course.
"They apparently don't care about doing this in a thoughtful way,” he said. “This is a simple sellout to this mining company."
Sending the bill to the Joint Finance Committee clears at least one procedural hurdle for Republicans. As Jauch noted, the committee is stacked with Republicans, meaning its passage there is all but certain.
"They can ram this thing through the Joint Committee on Finance on a 12-to-4 vote and say 'By god this is great,’” he said. “But I don't know how they get it out of the Senate."
That remains to be seen. Jauch says he won't vote for the Assembly version of this bill for several reasons, chief among them that it ends contested case hearings for mines. If no Democrats support the plan, then Republicans would need every one of their 17 members to vote yes for it to pass.