Calling it "a top priority" when the state Legislature officially returns to work later this month, Assembly Speaker-elect Robin Vos (R-Rochester) will make mining law reform the first bill introduced during the new session.
Vos and Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbottsford) say reform is needed to bring mining back to the state while also protecting the environment.
“Mining reform is a top priority in the state Assembly,” Vos said in a press release. “I’m hopeful all the interested parties can come together to protect our environment and make mining reform happen.”
Vos and Suder joined Gov. Scott Walker Wednesday as he visited companies in Green Bay, Milwaukee and Schofield that would directly benefit from the mining industry's return to Wisconsin.
Last year, a mining bill was defeated in the state Senate in a 17-16 vote, mostly along party lines. Shortly thereafter, Gogebic Taconite, the company behind the proposed $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine near Ashland, let lawmakers know they were no longer interested in setting up shop in the Dairy State.
But now, Republicans are pushing to re-open the debate, and Walker is supporting the move, according to a story from WBAY-TV.
While in Green Bay at Valley Plating and Fabricating, a business that supplies structures for mining, the governor said the new mining bill is good for business and the environment.
"The process should be one where it's clearly defined, where it's a streamlined process and it's one that still protects clean air, clean land, clean water," Walker is quoted as saying.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) released a statement saying he might support a new mining bill as long as the state's environment — vital for tourism and agriculture — is protected.
"We need to make sure the bill creates mining jobs and also protects our natural resources, as well as our tourism and agricultural economies that are so vital to Wisconsin," he said.