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Frac-sand miners believe municipalities overreacting to proposal

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A group of frac-sand miners says local governments are overreacting against a proposed bill to let the state take over much of the companies' regulations. 

Rich Budinger of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram his group is not asking for a decrease in government rules -- but it does want rules which are more consistent across the state. 

The bill would nullify a State Supreme Court ruling which gave local towns the ability to use their police powers to set things like hours of operation and blasting. 

Budinger says the state Safety and Professional Services agency already regulates blasting -- and towns still have lots of power through zoning and county reclamation permits.

The bill's chief sponsor, Hazelhurst Republican Tom Tiffany, has said that frac-sand companies find it very hard to deal with a hodge-podge of local rules -- and many are more stringent than they need to be. 

The bill was on a fast track in the Senate this month until Tiffany said he wanted to review concerns that have been raised. He now expects it to get a vote early next year. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had already delayed consideration of the bill in his house until next spring, so all the possible effects can have time to be explored.