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About that mining legislation

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Greg Peck
September 18, 2012

Starting this week, the Senate Special Committee on Mining, chaired by Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville, is holding a series of public hearings that he hopes will lead to new mining legislation when the Legislature reconvenes, probably in January.

Mining legislation divided Republicans and Democrats last spring after a bill passed the Assembly but lost in the Senate, 17-16.

Cullen says his mining committee wonít revisit that bill but will focus on current law and warranted changes. Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, however, suggested in a column last week that thereís no reason to throw out the previous legislation.

ďWe donít have time for a dog and pony show,Ē she said.

Cullen believes the hearings will build understanding about just what the state can and canít do to help mining companies dig in Wisconsin.

Madisonís failure to compromise led Gogebic Taconite to set aside plans to build a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in Iron and Ashland counties. The company hoped to employ from 600 to 700 people, and the mine likely would have led to thousands more jobs in construction and spinoff employment. Now, Gogebic has turned its attention to Michiganís Upper Peninsula.

Do you think itís too late for Wisconsin? Tim Sullivan doesnít. The former CEO of mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International is serving as an unpaid state consultant for workforce development. He recently said much work is going on behind the scenes and he believes a new bill will be introduced in January and will pass.

Do you think lawmakers can pass legislation that reasonably safeguards our environment? Are you confident that Cullen can lead the way, or do you think Lazich is right, that the Assembly bill should have passed last session?

Weíll share our perspectives in our editorial Wednesday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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