Talks continue toward mining regulatory reformImmediately following adjournment of the Legislative session, I sent Gov. Scott Walker a letter encouraging him to create a bipartisan panel that would bring legislators to the table to achieve consensus on the controversial mining reform legislation.
By: By Sen. Bob Jauch, Superior Telegram
Immediately following adjournment of the Legislative session, I sent Gov. Scott Walker a letter encouraging him to create a bipartisan panel that would bring legislators to the table to achieve consensus on the controversial mining reform legislation.
I was pleased when the governor contacted me in response to the letter and gave Sen. Dale Schultz and I each an opportunity to meet with him to review possible options on how he could proceed to enable a dialogue that would result in recommendations to achieve responsible mining regulatory reform.
It was a very cordial and productive meeting in which we agreed, that despite the rigorous political debate, there is a sincere willingness by the three of us to continue the dialogue to find common ground on the issue.
In our conversation I reminded the governor that there is already substantial agreement between the two plans that could be used as a blueprint for compromise.
There are seven items in which there is complete agreement, and six other items where each side addresses the same topic, but uses a different approach.
During our lengthy conversation no one made excuses or talked about blame. It was a positive, honest conversation among public officials genuinely looking for a resolution to a complicated, controversial and polarizing issue.
We also agree that it would not make sense to call a special session unless there was a compromise that could engender majority support in the Assembly and Senate.
We agree that it is best to remove the issue from the scorched earth political environment that has alienated public officials and polarized the public. Rather than appointing a bipartisan group of legislators it would be better to look outside the Capitol for individuals with balanced expertise and aren’t personally entangled in the partisan political discourse.
All of us agree that Tim Sullivan, the chair of the Wisconsin Mining Association, would be a very credible individual who could facilitate the dialogue. We have all maintained ongoing conversations with Tim and are comfortable with his grasp of the issues.
Most importantly, we are confident that he could reach out and work well with a diverse group of stakeholders that would be committed to recommending a consensus document.
Recently, Sullivan had a constructive, two-hour conversation with former DNR Secretary George Meyer that I believe created a good foundation for future dialogue.
A week ago he also met with Sen. Tim Cullen, Senator Schultz and I in a productive conversation during which there was mutual agreement on the goal of regulatory reform.
We discussed other individuals who we believe would provide objective and constructive input that could result in a thorough review of the regulatory process and consensus legislation. Sen. Schultz and I encouraged involvement with tribal representatives.
We agree the review should focus on ways to improve the predictability and certainty of the regulatory process. Between the two legislative proposals there is already a sufficient foundation for reasonable compromise. It will take a third party to solidify this compromise.
We agree an eventual proposal can be achieved, but it will take some time.
In this hot-blooded political climate, with upcoming recalls and November elections, too much attention will be focused on politics instead of policy.
Over the course of a year, I have had dozens of similar conversations with Department of Natural Resources and the governor’s staff. However, the conversation I had with Gov. Walker is exactly the kind that leads to resolution of complicated issues.
A year ago, I pledged to work for reasonable, responsible and realistic mining regulatory reform that is fair and flexible, protects the public voice and doesn’t weaken environmental standards. The hypertensive partisan charged debate has deeply polarized citizens and contributed to an impasse, but I remain committed to finishing the job.
If the only result is the bitter aftertaste of indecision, we will not have served the public well. I will continue to keep my word to serve the public and complete the task.
Sen. Bob Jauch is the Poplar Democrat representing the 25th District in the Wisconsin Senate.