MADISON - You can find the Republican's mining bill sitting on the Governor's desk Thursday night. The state Assembly passed the bill 58-39 just before 6:30 p.m.
Debate on the bill started around 9 a.m.
Lawmakers first had to get through 17 assembly amendments proposed by Democrats.
They have three big concerns with the GOP bill: making sure jobs are specifically created for Wisconsin workers, keeping the power to fight pollution in the hands of the taxpayers and maintaining the state's environmental protections.
Ashland Democrat Janet Bewley says she spoke with Gogebic Taconite's leaders about the mine. She quoted that conversation.
"I said, 'Do I have your word?'," Rep. Bewley said. "He said, 'Really. We don't want to change environmental law. We don't need to. Wisconsin has a strong tradition. We do not need to change environmental law,' and we shook hands.
We shook hands."
All 17 amendments were tabled on party-line votes, typically 59 to 39.
Republicans spent most of the day fighting the claims that they aren't concerned about people or the environment in the north.
"We also make sure you cannot fill in lake beds, you cannot fill in lakes," Abbotsford Rep. Scott Suder said.
"And again, you can't change the flow capacity of the stream. So, I understand the 'gotcha' amendments. But if you read the bill and talk to (legislative) council, you'll realize I'm correct, these statements are correct. Those are the facts behind the bill and to say otherwise is simply untrue."
The Governor likely will sign the bill soon, but Democrats and members of the Bad River tribe are promising to take the bill to court.
ONEIDA COUNTY - If your truck cracks through the ice, your first thought might be, "get off ASAP."
There are workers who head the opposite way--onto the ice to help.
That describes one local team who carefully went to work on the Willow Flowage in Oneida County in Little Rice on Tuesday.
"This ain't no joke out here," said Tom Quandt, Jr., the owner of Bulldog Off-Road Recovery Service. "I do get nervous, and today's a day I'm nervous because of the ice conditions."
That nervous energy is what likely helps Quandt and his crew carefully cross the ice and get sunken vehicles back above water level.
It's not easy. Quandt and his crew set nerves aside, driving in a bombardier about two miles off the shore on Willow Dam Road to get to the truck, which was near an island.
"I was looking at the ice," Quandt says as he describes the drive out to the car. "I was looking for holes in the ice, I was looking for the color of the ice...There was water coming up out of spots as we were driving out here."
The crew tried a few times to get the truck back on safer ice, but the car fell through again. The crew then decided to drill a trench to a nearby island and pull the car out that way.
"We can sit and play that game all day and it's not going to get us anywhere without a lot of time and labor into this," Quandt said.
The team got the car out and onto the island around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Quandt said the owner of the car may try to tow his truck back to shore later this week.
The DNR is aware of the situation. By state statute, you have 30 days to remove your car from the ice or get a fine.
MCALLEN, TX - U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is visiting the Rio Grande valley for a firsthand look at the U.S.-Mexico border as the Trump administration steps up immigration enforcement and prepares to ask Congress to pay for a border wall.
It's the first time the Wisconsin Republican has visited the border, and protests have been announced to meet his arrival in McAllen, Texas, on Wednesday.
RHINELANDER - If you did a double take driving down county highways this week, it was for good reason. Oneida County posted its weight limit restriction signs Monday. That's the earliest those signs have gone up in more than 15 years.
Usually weight limits go into effect in mid-March. Counties put them on to protect roads as frost comes out of the ground. Oneida County Highway Commissioner Bruce Stefonek tried to wait as long as possible.
RHINELANDER - Smartphone tracking technology can rescue lost drivers, help authorities find kidnapped victims and let parents keep tabs on their kids. However, this tracking can turn to stalking if the wrong person uses it. "It's actually something that's more common than you would think. That it's a very dangerous…it's a volatile situation because the perpetrator will know where the victim is at all times," said Tri-County Council Domestic Violence Coordinator Melissa P.
She says stalkers can find where you live, where you work, and even what stores you shop at. "The abuser starts to lose control when they go to all lengths to find their victim...If they feel like they are losing control…they have nothing else to lose," explained Melissa.
AT&T Sales Consultant Dusty Struck says stalkers can track smartphones by hacking into a built in chip. "It's like a GPS location services…basically every smartphone has a GPS chip built inside of it," said Struck.
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