Mining bill not ready for public -- just for mining companies and WMC | Wis.Community

Mining bill not ready for public -- just for mining companies and WMC

The Penokee Express slowed only slightly on Wednesday, as high-speed consideration of a bill to streamline approval of an open pit mine in northern Wisconsin was temporarily sidetracked.

But the farce continues. Sponsors pretend to be seeking public input when the bill has already been drafted and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce already has printed a splashy brochure supporting the bill, which it calls the Jobs for Generations Act. [UPDATE: Here's the ]

Although the bill draft had not been released, The brochure includes a Q-A describing in some detail what's in the bill. Look for a radio campaign to follow; TV may not be required if the GOP majority blindly follows WMC's lead as it usually does.

State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, who represents the area where the mine is proposed, complained that Republicans were rushing through a bill that "only the mining company [Gogebic Taconite] knows anything about."

“It is an absolute insult ... to schedule a bill that hasn’t even been released to the public," Jauch said ahead of Hopper's decision to put off a hearing on the bill. "The mining company has been privately writing this legislation for five months. It is only a matter of common decency that the Chair gives the public more than five days to review the bill.”

The Assembly Organization Committee subsequently canceled a Friday afternoon meeting to introduce the special session bill, and State Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, put off a public hearing planned for Monday.

Hoppersaid it was decided the bill needed some more time so the authors could work through some provisions.

"We're going to continue to work on it to improve it," he said.

Sen. Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee and one of the bill's co-authors, said the draft wasn't ready for public release. Apparently it was only ready for release to WMC.

As recently as last Friday, Zipperer and his co-sponsor, State Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, were meeting with local government and tribal officials in the area and asking them for their suggestions. They didn't mention that they'd try to hold a hearing a week later and then ram the bill through the legislature. They did say they had been getting "suggestions" from the mining company since January, however.

The bill would shorten the mining approval process, which now can take five years or more, to 300 days. The mining company says the huge new mine, in Ashland and Iron counties, could operate for a century, so a careful review would seem appropriate. But this is another in a long list of issues the GOP wants to jam through before the mid- July recall elections that may cost them their State Senate majority and restore some sanity to the Capitol.


May 11, 2011 - 8:05pm