NEWS STORIES

Joint Finance Committee approves mining legislation, Democrats expect court dates in the futureSubmitted: 02/25/2013
Story By Lane Kimble


MADISON - Lawmakers took another step toward making it easier to mine in Wisconsin.

The state's Joint Finance Committee passed the new Republican mining bill on a 12 to 4 vote Monday afternoon. The bill now moves to both the full state Senate and Assembly.

The GOP's bill is mainly designed to make it easier for a mining company to open a large mine. It would be on the border of Ashland and Iron Counties.

Democrats think the bill's language doesn't do enough to protect the environment.

But Ashland Representative Janet Bewley thinks the progress can be slowed in the courts.

"There are so many things in the bill that are ambiguous that will end up in court," Rep. Janet Bewley said. "I don't want to say I'm grateful to (Republicans) for writing such a sloppy bill, but the bill is written in such a form that there are many opportunities for it to end up in court."

Republicans don't think they're rushing anything. Hazelhurst Senator Tom Tiffany points to numerous changes from the first bill to this version.

He hopes it doesn't end up in the courts.

"We passed 11 amendments out of our Senate committee about two weeks ago," Sen. Tiffany said. "We've really, thoroughly vetted this bill. Will there be lawsuits, as Representative Bewley hopes? Perhaps, because some people will sue over anything in modern society. But this is really a good bill that protects the environment, while giving certainty to an applicant."

The mining bill will likely pass because Republicans control both the Senate and Assembly. Senator Tiffany thinks the Senate will take up the bill Wednesday.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

MILWAUKEE - A winter storm warning will go into effect in the Milwaukee area and far southern Wisconsin on Saturday night " and the National Weather Service says as much as 10 inches of snow could fall in Kenosha County by early Monday.

Snow is forecast to begin falling late Saturday and continue all day Sunday. Lake-effect snow is expected to combine with a low pressure system from the south to drive up snowfall totals in far southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee could see up to 9 inches.

Blowing and drifting snow is expected and winds could gust to over 30 mph, making travel dangerous.

Other parts of the state, including Sheboygan, Dodge, and Waukesha counties, will be under a winter weather advisory starting Saturday night. Snow accumulations could reach 4 to 7 inches.

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NORTHWOODS - The U.S. Forest Service will hire thousands of temporary workers this spring. Leaders at the Chequamegon Nicolet Forest Service want to hire more than 50 temporary employees to work during summer. They're looking for people with diverse backgrounds and plenty of experience.

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NEW YORK - More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for a second fix for faulty air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running.

The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all the vehicles covered in Saturday's announcement had already been under a recall for the faulty air bags, but the carmakers' original attempts to fix the defects only worked about 85 percent of the time.

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MADISON - A team of students from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is conducting research on foxes and coyotes in hopes of learning how the animals and humans can peacefully coexist.

Forest and wildlife associate professor David Drake and his students are humanely trapping the animals, running tests, then fitting them with tracking devices. The goal is to learn about traveling patterns, diseases the animals might have, and how they interact with other animals and humans.

Drake says foxes and coyotes are moving into areas where people are living. And if that continues, and the animals lose their fear of humans, they could become aggressive in extreme cases.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says residents should stay a safe distance from foxes or coyotes, and shouldn't feed them.

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ST. GERMAIN - Bikinis and snowmobiles don't typically mix. Except, when you're at the St. Germain Bikini Run.

The event draws a huge crowd every year and it raised thousands of dollars for charity.

"We started with six girls and maybe $8000 seven years ago. Now, we're up to 33 girls today and more than $50,000," says Mark Hiller, the St. Germain Radar Run race director. "Every year it just grows, and grows."

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PINE RIVER - Firefighters in Pine River had a tough day Saturday. They battled a house fire Friday night.

Crews didn't finish cleaning up the scene until 3:30 Saturday morning. Then they got called to a second fire in the afternoon.

The first fire happened at 9:12 p.m. The Lincoln County Dispatch Center got a call about a possible structure fire on County Highway WW in the Town of Pine River. That's east of Merrill, but when the Pine River Department got there, the house was in flames.

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HUDSON - A standoff between police and a man in Hudson has ended with the man taken into custody.

Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen says a man with a "known history of violence" was arrested shortly before 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Police were initially called to the house at 3 a.m. Jensen says the man had trashed his ex-girlfriend's home and phone, but she was able to get to a friend's house and call police.

The woman told police there was a handgun in the house. Roughly eight nearby homes were evacuated as police and the SWAT team tried to get the man to come outside.

Jensen says no shots were fired, but authorities used tear gas and other chemicals during the standoff.

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