Wisconsin Assembly passes controversial mining bill 58-39Submitted: 03/07/2013

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor

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.

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