Mining Bill Clears Key Committee

By KBJR News 1

February 25, 2013 Updated Feb 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM CDT

Madison, WI (NNCNOW.com)-- A key committee has voted to forward a bill to Wisconsin's state Senate that would streamline the ferrous mining process.

Monday, Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 to pass the legislation. The bill heads to the state Senate and Assembly next, where it is expected to pass.

In 2012, a mining bill failed in the Senate after getting out of the Joint Finance Committee.

The bill in 2013 has more support in both the Assembly and Senate with the Republican party controlling both houses.

There was contentious debate Monday over amendments to the bill, and the bill itself.

Some democrats at the Joint Finance Committee meeting said that certain taxes on the weight of the iron ore itself, or gross tonnage should be part of the package, but the amendment was struck down fast.

The bill passed easily after debate and votes on other amendments.

The majority voted 12-4 to the dismay of some who feel the mining bill is too similar to the legislation that failed in 2012.

"I'm still really frustrated that one year later, it seems on the big issues very little has changed and we find ourselves with the promise from one mining company that might do business in this state," said Rep. Cory Mason of Racine.

Gogebic Taconite, who has said they are interested in possibly investing in a mining project in the both Iron and Ashland Counties, pulled out of a mining project last year.

The area known as the Penokee Range near Mellen, Wisconsin is said to have a large deposit of iron ore.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants this bill to become law without a gross tonnage tax so if that issue doesn't come up again, this bill is expected to pass the Senate, and then the Assembly and get signed into law soon.

Zach Vavricka

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