Wisconsin Assembly passes controversial mining bill 58-39
Story By Lane Kimble
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.
WISCONSIN - The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling received a record number of phone calls to the helpline in 2014â€"14,731 to be exact. This is a 5.6 percent increase from calls received in 2013.
Some of the callers reported having to file for bankruptcy or having thoughts of suicide. The report from the Council also calculated $47,000 as the average gambling debt of callers in 2014, and $20,000 as the median debt.
VILAS COUNTY - Many snowmobile trails in Eagle River still need more grooming after all three trail groomers went out of service. The trails didn't get groomed for four days last week because all three of the Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club's trail groomers need repairs.
The club hasn't had all of their groomers working for a couple of weeks. Sno-Eagles President Ken Storms said the trails took a big hit last week when all three went down. The club says it has made a concerted effort to catch up with trail grooming, and get the trails smoothed out.
PHILLIPS - The Price County Sheriff's Office wants to find out what it needs to do to get a K-9 officer. Sheriff Brian Schmidt believes a new dog would improve the office's ability to find drugs.
The county doesn't have its own K-9 officer. However, they do turn to other departments for help.
"What we would utilize is surrounding counties, and it is at their discretion," Schmidt said. "Like Rhinelander, we utilize their dog on occasion, maybe once or twice a year. But again, it is their dog, so they have their needs come first. So if we have our own equipment, our needs are met with our equipment."
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