MAC: Mines and Communities

Wisconsin's pro-mining bill is dead for now

Published by MAC on 2012-03-20
Source: Ashland Current

- If not for ever

After upsetting much of Wisconsin with Koch Brothers-inspired anti-union legislation last year that led to a massive uprising in Wisconsin's capital, Governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies began pushing a special interest mining bill through the state legislature.

The bill would have directly benefited a key Walker campaign contributor, the Cline Group which, through its subsidiary Gogebic Taconite, plans to open a large open pit iron mine outside of Ashland (closest town to the Apostle Islands, in Lake Superior).See: Wisconsin Tribes unite against new mining bill

The legislation, widely opposed by the public, environmental groups, and the Bad River Indian tribe, would have severely limited citizen participation in the permitting process and stripped away many environmental protections.

Interestingly, it was a Republican senator, Dale Schultz, who originally prevented the bill from moving forward, refusing to budge under intense pressure. Now one of his Republican colleagues, facing a recall election (along with Governor Walker), has resigned and the mining legislation has been withdrawn from committee.

Due to last year's citizen recall effort two Republicans allied with Walker were recalled.

Now the Wisconsin legislature has 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans. With Schultz refusing to back down, this bill may not move forward at all this year, if ever, especially if Walker and more of his allies are recalled.

[Comment by MAC Editor Gabriel Caplett, 17 March 2012].

Galloway Resigns; Mining Bill So Far Dead

Ashland Current

16 March 2012

Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) yesterday announced her retirement from the state senate, effectively creating a 16-16 vote split and eliminating the Republican majority in the legislative body.

"After a great deal of thought and consideration, I've decided to put the needs of my family first. My family has experienced multiple, sudden and serious health issues, which require my full attention," Galloway says in her statement.

Online, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters lauded the move.

"Major breaking news. Senator Galloway's resignation effectively puts an end to any discussion of a special session on mining. Congrats one and all!" the organization said on its Facebook page.

Galloway was among legislators being recalled this spring. According to the state's Government Accountability Board, the recall election will still take place, regardless of whether Galloway is running.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate responded to the news.

"For more than a year, Wisconsin has been subject to job loss, division and rollbacks of historic freedoms. Scott Walker's agenda has been disastrous for our state, and it has been enabled by lapdogs in the Legislature," Tate said. "The news that Republicans will lose their majority in the Senate gives hope in the short-term that Walker's corporate Tea Party agenda has been stalled for now."

Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney expressed support for Galloway.

"Senator Galloway has been a powerful advocate for economic growth and job creation on behalf of residents of the 29th District, and her leadership will be missed. She was a tireless worker for the families in her District, and played a crucial role working with her colleagues in the Senate to lay the foundation for economic growth in the face of staunch Democrat opposition," Courtney said.

A mining bill hearing was planned by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce and Government Operations, though given the lack of a Republican majority in the state senate, according to Committee Chairman Sen. Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee), the hearing has been canceled.

"Unfortunately, as of today, I am aware of no Senators who appear willing to reconsider their opposition [to the mining bill]. As a result, I do not believe a meeting of the committee at this time could bring us any closer to passing the needed legislation.," Zipperer says
in a statement. "I remain ready to work with any Senators open to finding a way to bring mining jobs and investment to our state, and will convene the committee at any point in the future if doing so will allow us to make progress on this sorely needed jobs bill."

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters called on state citizens to celebrate.

"Monday's non-public, public hearing on mining bill in the Judiciary  Committee is cancelled. THE OPEN-PIT MINING BILL IS DEAD and everyone must stop what they are doing right now to do the happy dance!!!!!" the organization posted on its Facebook page.

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