A new year means a new legislative session in Madison. Governor Walker was in Schofield today outlining his plans for the new year. One of his top priorities this session, getting a mining bill passed.
After a controversial mining bill failed in the Senate earlier this year, Governor Walker is ready to tweak the proposal to make sure it gets passed this session.
Governor Walker emphasized today the importance of streamlining the process for safe and environmentally sound mining in the state of Wisconsin. He said it would mean thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for the State.
The bill originally proposed an iron ore mine in Iron County that drew criticism from environmentalists. In fact, Republican State Senator Dale Schultz, whose vote was responsible for stopping the previous bill, was quoted as saying, "How anyone could say that a piece of legislation that allows for a company to fill a navigable waterway doesn't contain any environmental law changes is beyond me." But with a Republican majority in both houses, Walker is confident a compromise can be reached.
"I believe firmly that there is a bill that can pass that can both produce mining jobs in the state and still can maintain high levels of protection for clean air, clean land, clean water," Gov. Walker said.
He added that iron ore is one of the safest metals to mine for and that this bill will just streamline the process for mining, not guarantee a mine. The DNR will still have to approve the mine.
A spokeswoman for some of Wisconsin's Native American Tribes who were opposed to the mining bill in the past did not want to comment today.
Governor Walker also made stops in Green Bay and Milwaukee.