MacIver News Service | February 28, 2013[Madison, Wisc…] On Wednesday night, the Senate debated Senate Bill 1, Sen. Tom Tiffany’s (R-Hazelhurst) mining legislation. After just over eight hours of floor debate, the bill passed by a 17-16 vote along party lines. The only Senator to break from his party was Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) who voted in opposition.
Senate Bill 1 is a similar bill to one that failed to pass in the State Legislature last session. During the lengthy debate, it was the Democrats that did much of the talking, proposing 14 amendments to the bill. Each amendment was tabled with the same vote of 17-16.
The first amendment proposed by the Democrats was a substitute amendment from Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) that was meant to replace SB 1. Democrats railed against SB 1 claiming it would cause environmental destruction, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) made the claim that “There will not be jobs.” Democrats continued throughout floor debate to say that no jobs would be created.
However, the mining company affirmed it would create 2,800 construction jobs over the first two years and at least 700 permanent positions at the proposed mine.
Sen. Tiffany stated that this bill is a 21st century mining bill. He went on to say, “Now we have the possibility of a rebirth of an industry here in the state of Wisconsin,” referencing the likelihood of thousands of new jobs in Northern Wisconsin.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) echoed Sen. Tiffany’s sentiment in a statement he put out after the vote. “Today, after nearly two years of public debate, Senate Republicans passed a bill that opens the door for thousands of jobs while protecting our natural resources.”
The bill will now head to the Assembly for approval where a vote is expected next week. If approved by the Assembly, it will head to Governor Scott Walker’s desk for his signature.