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Mining bill top priority for Republican controlled legislature that starts Monday


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Mining will be Job-One in the Wisconsin Legislature in the new session.

Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Majority Leader Scott Suder said a mining package will be the first bill that Republicans will introduce in the new session, which officially begins Monday.

They said the package would help bring thousands of jobs to the Badger State – but they did not offer details on what the bill might include.

Some Republicans have said they want no changes from a mining package that passed the Assembly last year, but was killed by one vote in the Senate.

It would have relaxed environmental protections, and taken away the public’s ability to challenge DNR mining decisions in contested-case hearings.

Republican Governor Scott Walker is among those trying to get Gogebic Taconite to revive its proposed iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.

On Wednesday, Walker is highlighting the economic importance of mining in visits to businesses in Green Bay, Schofield, and Milwaukee.

Gogebic Taconite and state business leaders have criticized a Democratic proposal made late last year.

It includes a two-year time limit for the state to approve mining permits – and it would preserve environmental safeguards and contested-case hearings.

Democrats also say Indian tribes should be part of the bill-making process – which the Republicans didn’t do last time around.