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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

 8:57 PM 

Senate backs mining bill

The Senate voted 17-16 this evening to approve legislation revising the state's iron mining standards, with Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, joining Dems in opposition.

Schultz said the likely outcome of the bill would not be a prosperous Ashland County, but a cycle of “boom-and-bust and environmental degradation.”

“That’s the history of these issues, and it is the height of arrogance to believe ... that it will be different this time around,” Schultz said.

Dems slammed the legislation as flawed environmentally, economically and legally.

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, charged that the Legislature was about to “sell Wisconsin’s birthright” for the promise of jobs, adding that the mining company’s jobs forecast for the potential site hasn’t inspired confidence.

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said the bill could have been bipartisan, but that the majority failed to strike a balance between the need for jobs and the environment. Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, called it a “joke” that the company would pay the state based on profits.

“I venture to guess we won’t see a dime for a very, very, very, very, very, very long time,” Erpenbach said.

Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, countered that the bill reflects Wisconsinites’ values as a “proud manufacturing state” concerned about the environment, arguing that the miner reflected on the state’s flag has “been laid off” for most of the last 40 years.

“This is the first step in the rebirth of the mining industry,” Tiffany said.

Debate was interrupted briefly by outbursts from the gallery near the beginning of debate on passage, and again when Tiffany said he took offense at remarks that he was “not an environmentalist.”

“We can have both. We can have a strong tourism economy and we can have a very strong manufacturing economy,” Tiffany said.


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