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.
EAGLE RIVER - Highway workers do a dangerous job, working alongside traffic with very little protection. A new state law could make those jobs a little safer.
A hand-held cellphone ban for work zones starts statewide Saturday. Drivers cannot make or answer phone calls while in work zones unless they use Bluetooth or some sort of earpiece.
Vilas County Highway Commissioner Nick Scholtes calls the law change a great thing for the state.
"The ones that are on their phones, they seem a little oblivious to what we are doing there at the time," Scholtes said. "They're going through the motions coming through the work zone but it's actually very scary at the same time because if they needed to stop quickly don't know if they could."
STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings. The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.
Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest. Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair. The victim was treated at the hospital and released.
Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing. Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.
If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.
You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.
STATEWIDE - City, county, and town leaders hope you Turn Out for Transportation Thursday night. Seventy-one of the state's 72 counties will hold public forums for people to learn more about the state's transportation budget.
The idea comes from the "Just Fix It" campaign, which many counties have signed encouraging state lawmakers to find a better way to pay for roadwork.
You can find the location and time for your county's meeting via the link below.
RHINELANDER - Hockey players in Rhinelander will see some big changes.
After getting a large anonymous donation, the Rhinelander Ice Association will get a new training area, weight room, locker room, and more.
Since work began in August, framing for the building has gone up and dry wall will be put in next week.
"Just the whole project is really exciting and really going to come together and improve Rhinelander, and improve athletics in Rhinelander," said Rhinelander Ice Association Rink Manager Brett Aylesworth.
FLORENCE - In Florence County, more people work in forestry-related jobs than in any other industry.
"It's unbelievable, the way I put it," said logger Jaden Streu. "There are a lot, a lot of jobs and a lot of people that are retiring."
Streu graduated from Florence High School this spring and immediately went to work for his family's business, CTL Timber Harvesting.
Streu was among the presenters at Wednesday's Log-A-Load educational day at Florence.
"I think the big thing is, this industry is changing, from some of the equipment [the students] saw that was working here today. It's highly technical equipment," Florence District Administrator Ben Niehaus said.
"My favorite station was the sawmill," said Florence fourth grader Hannah Holdaway. "I didn't know that they cut it with a machine. I thought they just cut it with a saw."
"I think they leave here with a whole different perspective of, 'Wow, this isn't just a chainsaw and something that looks like a bulldozer that picks wood up and decks it on a log truck. There's a lot more to it,'" Niehaus said.
People like Streu would like to leave a positive impression of the forestry industry on students.
"We hope that they leave [saying], 'This ain't bad. This is a good thing,'" he said.
Hopefully, as Streu sees it, some of these learners will someday become his coworkers in the forest.
"We need the younger generation to come in, like me, to take it over and keep it going," Streu said. "It's a family business and I can have kids, hopefully, and be able to show them and bring them up in it and keep it going generations after generations."
Students from both Florence and Wabeno came to the Log-A-Load day.
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