Wisconsin Finance Committee Approves Mining Bill

By KBJR News 1

March 5, 2012 Updated Mar 5, 2012 at 10:22 PM CST

Superior, WI (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee debated the shape of a bill to streamline Wisconsin's mining permitting process in Madison today while Governor was talking mining in Superior.

The bill passed the committee and now will go to the Senate for a vote sometime this week.

But a Republican Senator holding the key vote to pass this bill says he will go with the Democrats and vote against it.

Dale Schultz worked on a bipartisan amendment to get two things into this bill: contested case hearings prior to permits being issued and to leave Wisconsin's environmental standards intact.

The new amendment allows case hearings only after a permit has been issued a problem for the future of this bill with Schultz holding the key vote in transforming this bill into law.

The JFC amendment also includes fees in lieu of wetland mitigation for person's applying for a ferrous mining permit.

FEMA flood insurance is also addressed, requiring those applying for a permit in a flood plane to abide by only federal regulations, effectively dismantling all local regulations of flood planes.

The Amendment also increases the timeline for DNR review of a mining application from 360 days to 420 days.

Governor Scott Walker, while not commenting on today's hearing, did say that he does not support either the assembly bill or the senate bill but wants a compromise to be reached.

"Some of those things involving the environmental standards and case hearings, my staff has been involved and contacted other Senators but I have in no way drawn the line in the sand. Just that we are helping to build a healthy compromise"

Governor Walker also said he would consider a Special Session if the bill stalls in the Senate.

In the Wisconsin Senate, the GOP holds a slim 17-16 majority and with the voting on this issue being strictly partisan, Senator Schultz voting with the Democrats will derail the mining bill.

Zach Vavricka

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