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State Senate mining debate expected this afternoon, evening


MADISON (WSAU)  The Wisconsin Senate has delayed the start of its much-anticipated mining debate by an hour. That’s not unusual, even in good weather. But much of the Badger State is feeling the wrath of another massive winter outburst. When lawmakers reached the Capital City, they found around five-inches of snow and drifting as of mid-morning. And at 11, it was still coming down. As of 11:30, the Senate’s Web site said the session would not begin until noon.

A debate and a vote are expected on the Republican mining incentive bill designed to bring jobs to far northern Wisconsin, by making it easier for Gogebic Taconite to get a state permit and open a new iron ore mine. The main sponsor, Hazelhurst Republican Tom Tiffany, wouldn’t say for sure if his party has enough votes to ram the package through. But he said it was confident it would pass today, after what could be a long debate.

Democrats are expected to recommend several amendments to change the way mining taxes are assessed, improving environmental protections, and letting people challenge D-N-R decisions in contested case hearings.

The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee rejected all those changes on Monday, when it endorsed the package of a 12-4 party line vote.