WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAU) - A bill introduced in the State Senate that would block local governments from regulating sand mines has both local leaders and other state legislators concerned.
The bill was authored by Republican Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst. His proposal would not let local governments use what he calls “police powers” to regulate mines, regulate blasting, and it would stop them from collecting advance fees for damage to county and town roads.
Wood County Board Chairman Lance Pliml says that would be a big issue for them, since they see no other way to pay for the highway damages without those fees. “When we ran the Wisconsin Counties Association Frac Sand Task Force, one of the things we looked at was maintaining local control, and part of that is because the topographic nature of certain areas, the geological structure lends to different rules for different places, including those road agreements.”
Pliml says he understands the Senator’s goal of providing certainty and uniformity to rules so they can attract business, but not every area of the state has the same issues. He says losing local control usually means losing the revenue stream needed to maintain infrastructure. “It’s really tough having somebody in Madison make decisions for people up in, let’s say, St. Croix County, or somewhere up in the northwest corner of the state, and my biggest fear is that anytime the state gets involved, revenues tend to flow to Madison and they never go back to where those impacts actually occur.”
Pliml is meeting with Tiffany and other legislators Wednesday.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports Tiffany’s concept of letting the Department of Natural Resources set mining rules, but has said it will not make it onto the fall legislative calendar since they have other priorities before the recess.
(Lance Pliml's interview is attached to our website in the Newsmaker's Interview section, here.)