[Madison, Wisc...] Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature introduced a new mining bill Wednesday, which they hope will create the conditions to allow a company to open an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin, a $1.5 billion investment that is estimated to create over 3,500 jobs.
"Passing a mining bill is one our top legislative priorities for this upcoming session," said Majority Leader, Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford). "We will have an open and transparent process and we hope to have bipartisan support in both houses."
Efforts to pass a similar bill last session were foiled as Democrats concentrated their efforts on recalling Governor Scott Walker and regaining the majority in the Senate. Walker won the recall, but Democrats achieved a narrow majority in the Senate. They spent the next few months holding committee hearings and handpicking special interest groups to testify about mining reform.
Democrats have not yet introduced a bill based on those hearings. With Republicans now back in control of both legislative chambers, the starting point for mining reform this session will be the final version of the bill that was defeated last session.
Democrats warn any law Republicans pass will be blocked in court, as Dane County judges have done to previous Republican backed laws.
"Instead of creating jobs in Northern Wisconsin, the only jobs that will be created from the Republican bill will be the lawyers who spend 7 or 8 years arguing it in the courts," Senator Bob Jauch stated in a press release.
Republicans hope to have the mining bill passed within the next couple of months.