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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 9:47 AM 

Amid Dem objections, authors defend aspects of iron mining bill

In brief testimony and a limited question-and-answer period, the authors of the mining bill said the legislation allowed for further collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers and would not change environmental standards.

Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, accused the authors of crafting a bill that did not achieve the goals of certainty and streamlining.

"The main consideration that seems to come up in criticism of the bill last time is that we're not really doing certainty," Lehman said. "We're not really aligning with the corps of engineers and their timeline but we're doing a lot of other things."

Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, said that the new bill did add in a provision that requires the permittee to coordinate their mining permit efforts with the Army Corps of Engineers. Tiffany then said that other states, such as Michigan, don't even collaborate with the Army Corps of Engineers in some cases and that Wisconsin's efforts to link up on mining issues is ahead of the curve.

As for the exemptions highlighted by Democrats in the bill, Tiffany said it provided an exemption from the mining statutes but not for environmental standards elsewhere in state statute.

"There are exemptions in this bill, but there are also exemptions in current law," Tiffany said.

Because the question period for each committee appearance is limited, Democrats have repeatedly objected, saying that they're not getting appropriate time to ask their questions.

"This is a kangaroo court, madam chair," said Rep. Brett Hulsey in response to the limited time frame.

Williams and Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, emphasized that the authors are open to questions and suggestions posed to their offices.

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