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Thursday, January 26, 2012

 5:17 PM 

Dems hit back at GOP on mining bill

After statements from Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, that the contested case hearing process is "simply an avenue for lawyers to drag out the hearing forever," Democrats responded that it's a necessary process for grievances and would actually minimize the need for litigation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Louis Molepske Jr. and other Dems urged the GOP members to at least amend the bill to give 100 percent of the net proceeds tax revenue to the locals. Right now, the bill has a 50/50 split between the state and the local communities. The amendment would change that to 60/40 in favor of locals.

Honadel also claimed that he had shared a draft of the bill with representatives from Northern Wisconsin. Both Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, and Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, said they'd never seen the bill.

Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, also claimed that provisions in the bill could result in the suspension of federal emergency flood insurance from FEMA. The bill exempts mining from prohibitions on building in a floodplain zone.

Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, responded to all of those claims by emphasizing that the Legislature had to make a choice between China and Wisconsin. He also assailed Dems for protecting the contested case hearing, saying it takes power out of the hands of DNR staff.

"It has been repeatedly said, you need to trust the Dept of Natural Resources. Those are the scientists, those are the experts. This bill says exactly that, let's let those professors in the DNR make that decision."


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