Republicans Announce Mining Bill Amendments

[Madison, Wisc…] On Monday, Republican lawmakers announced changes they’ve made to proposed mining legislation based off of public input and meetings with Democrat lawmakers.

Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) said he and other republicans met with Democrat representatives Janet Bewley, Fred Clark and Peter Barca for three hours last week at the request of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

“Our Speaker brought us together and we had long, I think very productive discussions,” Suder said at a press conference Monday.

“The doors have been open, people have been talking on both sides of the aisle, and I believe that now even though we had a good bill, we have an even better bill,” Rep. Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee) said.

Republicans changed a provision that would have sent 40 percent of the tax proceeds to the Economic Development Corporation. Now that money will go straight into the general fund.

Also the company would be required to complete water quality modeling extending to 250 years past the expected closing date of the mine. The original Republican bill only required 100 years. They got the 250-year requirement out of Senator Tim Cullen’s bill, which he is circulating as an alternative to the Republican bill.

“Senator Cullen had some great ideas. We’ve incorporated those into these amendments,” Suder said.

Cullen and Clark.png (Thumbnail)However, after the press conference, Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) said he could not support the bill even in its amended form. He admitted that he had not proposed any amendments to the bill.

“They’ve begun some baby steps in the right direction,” he said.

During the bill’s public hearing last month, the non-partisan legislative reference bureau confirmed the Republican bill does not change water or air quality standards. However, critics of the bill continue to suggest that it does.

“The people of this state at the end of the day still are in support of clean water and protecting our lakes and rivers and wetlands, and this bill has a long way to go before it gets to that standard,” said Rep. Fred Clark (D-Sauk City).

“We did meet with Representative Suder and Representative Vos as they indicated,” Clark said. “But we explained to them in the beginning was that there’s really no way short of starting over that this bill can be made acceptable to our caucus.”

The bill is scheduled for executive hearings on Wednesday.