Last minute push is on to get mining bill backWith the legislature set to adjourn after Thursday, time is running short for a bill that would streamline the iron ore mine permitting process. Republicans still hope to resurrect their bill by converting a Democratic senator to their side.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
With the legislature set to adjourn after Thursday, time is running short for a bill that would streamline the iron ore mine permitting process. Republicans still hope to resurrect their bill by converting a Democratic senator to their side.
About 300 people gathered Saturday in the Iron County town of Montreal to rally for an iron ore mining bill, one that would keep Gogebic Taconite from taking its $1.5 billion for a Penokee Range mine and leave the state.
Iron County Development Zone Director Kelly Klein says they’re still optimistic that G-Tac will stay.
“There is hope that they would continue to work in Wisconsin,” Klein said. “On the other hand, we feel that a ferrous mining law should be in Wisconsin whether or not Gogebic Taconite is here or not.”
Klein says they urged people at the rally to contact their state senator, Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch, and others who didn’t support the Republican-backed bill. That bill was sent back to committee after the Senate rejected it last Tuesday 17 to 16 … with Republican Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center joining all 16 Democrats.
In an appearance in Milwaukee, Gov. Scott Walker is also using the word “hope” in getting a Democrat to switch sides, especially from the Milwaukee area where heavy mining equipment is built.
“My hope is that leaders from those areas step up and encourage these state senators. There’s still hope. The clock is not done,” the governor said. “But it can’t be a whole new process with a whole new bill because the mining company is not going to come back for that.”
Meanwhile, Jauch, who along with Schultz, is sponsoring an alternative iron ore mining bill, doesn’t think there will be any defectors among Democratic senators. As for taking heat, an aide says they’re not getting many phone calls from constituents.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce and Government Operations will convene Monday to discuss the bill. According to the agenda, the panel, which meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol, will not take public comments.