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Mining committees to vote next week on GOP bill


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Mining committees in both the state Assembly and the Senate plan to vote a week from Wednesday on the Republican package which would make it easier to open new mines.

Majority Republicans say the bill would create much-needed jobs throughout the Badger State – and the early committee votes are a sign of that urgency.

The votes are expected to pave the way for negotiations on possible changes which could address criticisms about reduced environmental protections. The key Republican sponsors have already said there would be changes – but it remains to be seen what they’ll be.

The bill would also set a 480 day time limit for approving mining applications – and it’s geared toward Gogebic Taconite’s plan to open an iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.

The Senate’s president has said he wants elements of a Democratic alternative placed into the GOP package.

Among other things, the bill from Janesville Senate Democrat Tim Cullen would preserve environmental protections. And it would not take away people’s rights to challenge DNR mining decisions both before and after mining permits are issued.