Wisconsin Republicans moved a revamped bill that would allow builders to fill marshes and swamps without a permit out of committee Thursday, clearing the way for a full Senate floor vote.
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy voted 3-2 to approve the bill. All three Republicans on the panel voted for the measure. The panel’s two Democrats, Mark Miller and Dave Hansen, voted against it, warning the loss of wetlands would worsen flooding and ruin wildlife habitat.
“I believe ... this bill, even as amended, fails to fulfill our constitutional obligation to protect the waters of Wisconsin,” Miller said.
Sen. Robert Cowles, the committee’s chairman and the revisions’ chief author, said the measure strikes a balance between allowing business expansion and protecting the environment.
Republicans and their allies in business and construction circles have long complained that the state Department of Natural Resources’ permit process for filling wetlands slows development.