Rep. Krug to introduce a second “Mill Bill” for area paper mills

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 1:17 PM CDT
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ROME, Wis. (WSAW) - Republican Representative Scott Krug of Nekoosa said he’ll be introducing a second bill to provide assistance towards the reestablishment of papermaking at the former paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Park Falls.

On Wednesday, Rep. Krug and several other lawmakers announced a new package aimed at providing assistance towards the sale of the mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Park Falls.

“Everyone in our communities was deeply disappointed when Governor Evers vetoed our first attempt at this in July,” said Rep. Krug, commenting on Evers’ veto of 2021 AB 367 on July 8.

The new proposal is known temporarily as LRB 5138. The bill is being circulated for co-sponsorship in the legislature, and Rep. Krug said he expects a public hearing on the new bill soon.

Krug said LRB 5138 has two parts. One part provides some assistance to the mills in Wisconsin Rapids and in Park Falls that is intended to keep both mills viable in anticipation of the future. LRB 5138 would also provide up to $1 million to keep the Wisconsin Rapids mill in a nearly operational condition in order to allow time for a sale and reopening to happen using as much existing equipment as possible.

Under the bill, $1 million in General Purpose Revenue, or GPR would be transferred to the Wisconsin Economist Development Corporation to make a grant to an eligible recipient. GPR revenue comes almost exclusively from taxes, typically individual income tax and sales tax.

The bill would also assist with the reopening of the Park Falls paper mill by providing $15 million for a loan guarantee to secure financing to reopen Park Falls. Krug explained the loan guarantee would come from GPR funds transferred to WEDC. If the guarantee is not in place by June 30, 2023, the funds go back to the general fund. If the guarantee is in place, the funds would go back to the general fund when the loan terms are complete. The second part of the bill deals with substance abuse prevention on transportation and public utility projects. A news release explained these provisions stem from discussions held during deliberations on the 2021- 23 state budget bill, which was passed this past summer.

“We need these mills to reopen, and for that to happen, we need these mills to find new owners. We’ll give Governor Evers another chance to recognize the struggles ongoing in our Northern communities. We won’t give up,” Krug said.

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