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

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor
lkimble@wjfw.com


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

MERRILL - Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he didn't want to spend too much time at the Republican National Convention last week because he wanted to get back to campaigning in his home state.

The senator from Oshkosh stopped at the Lincoln County Fair on Saturday.

He faces a tight races against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis). 

Johnson gave a speech on Tuesday in Cleveland about national security, as he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.

He seems pleased with the Republican presidential ticket.

"I think it's really complimentary to the skills Donald Trump brings to the table," Johnson said. "You got Donald Trump with the private sector experience. You got Mike Pence with a real record accomplishment both in the House and as the governor of Indiana. I think it's a pretty good pairing."

He said he wouldn't pay too much attention to the speeches at the Democratic National Convention this week.

"They've got their ticket, we've got our ticket," Johnson said. "They'll make a bunch of promises they can't deliver on. And what we're going to focus on is economic growth, strengthen our economy so we can strengthen our military, so we can defeat ISIS and secure our borders." 

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THREE LAKES - Dozens of people gathered at Three Lakes Watersports to waterski today for the third annual Pass the Handle Day.

This worldwide project was started by two legendary wake-boarders.

People of all ages and levels geared up to ski for free.

One of the boats honks as a skier lands in the water. That's the sound of a successful trip around the lake.

Corey Seemann is one of the instructors at Three Lakes Watersports. He knows how important these moments are for kids.

"It's what makes it special," Seemann said. "Seeing people that have never had the opportunity to come out and kind of live their dream, you know, and see some of the kids just have a blast."

Kids of all different ages came out for an action packed day. Some with more experience than others.

"It's just really fun," said 8-year-old Katie Swendson. "Getting out on the water."

She just learned how to get up on one ski.

For some of the skiers, this was their first time skiing on water.

"Nervous, but once I get up I get excited that I'm up," said 10-year-old Blake Slizwski.

One of the youngest skiers was 6-year-old Jack Westfall.

He went out with only one thing in mind.

"I'm here to water ski to get a puppy," Westfall said.

His sister says they've been trying to get him to ski for a long time and puppy was an incentive to get him out there.

"Little does he know, he's getting a stuffed puppy," said his sister, Anna.
 
Stuffed or not, Jack had two successful trips around the lake, along with many other kids.

Three Lakes Watersports is open all summer long.

They hold waterski and wakeboard lessons for skiers of all ages and levels

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SHAWANO COUNTY - UPDATE 5:13 p.m.--Police say six people, including children, were taken to area hospitals after two sport utility vehicles carrying Boy Scouts crashed in Shawano County.

The accident happened Saturday morning on Highway 29 near Bonduel.

Police say one of the SUVs was towing a trailer with equipment. The driver of that vehicle went off the roadway then overcorrected and lost control. The second SUV hit the first, and both went off the road. The trailer flipped and the second SUV landed partially on top of the first.

Bonduel police Chief Todd Chaney tells the Green Bay Press Gazette that one of the injured, a troop leader, was airlifted to St. Vincent's Hospital in Green Bay with a head injury.

Chaney said he didn't think any of the injuries were life threatening.



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CRANDON - The first annual Legionnaire Mud Challenge made its way to Crandon Saturday.

The International Off-Road Raceway welcomed nearly 200 participants who were ready to get down and dirty.

Men and women of all ages were brought together by the desire to work up a sweat.

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WINCHESTER - Just a short walk from Kristin Cibelli's parents' deck stand--or rather lie--uprooted trees and twisted fences.

"I've never seen any damage like that in the 48 years I've been coming up here," Cibelli said.

Cibelli woke up to Thursday morning's heavy rains and winds around 5:30 a.m.  The storm finally passed over the Winchester area and the family went out to look over the damage.

"Adrenaline definitely was flowing," Cibelli said.

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LANGLADE COUNTY - A dead crow found in Langlade County last week tested positive for West Nile virus. It's the first crow to test positive in Langlade County since surveillance started for the virus on May 1.

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CRYSTAL FALLS, L'ANSE - Hunters, biologists, and wildlife watchers worry about the low deer population in northern Wisconsin.

But in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the situation is even worse.

Wildlife biologists say nearly every single fawn died after the harsh winters of 2012 and 2013, further hurting a struggling herd. In fact, the population has been on the decline since 1995.

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