Monday, March 5, 2012

Wisconsin Republicans Forcing Crap Mining Bill Down Our Throats

The Republican leadership in Wisconsin is trying to shove crap mining legislation down our throats. Republican co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee Darling and Vos released a fake compromise this morning, which Republican Senator Dale Schultz said the pseudo contested cases it includes "is no compromise at all. In fact, it makes a bad idea worse."

Instead of compromising with Republican Senator Dale Schultz and Democrats by supporting the bipartisan Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act which keeps our existing environmental protections (bulletpoint overview), the Republican leadership has offered another fake compromise. Schultz has rejected the fake compromise, Jauch offered the WWMR Act to the JFC, and we're set for a major battle when the JFC reconvenes at 4:15pm.

You can watch it live on WisEye - Charter channel 995 or online. If you see Senators Schultz and Jauch fight AB 426 and defend the WWMR Act, you'll know who's fighting for Wisconsin.

The fake compromise was drafted behind closed doors and released to the Joint Finance Committee just hours before they're expected to vote on it. Sen. Lena Taylor blasted the Republican leadership for drafting the new bill behind closed doors and giving the committee only a few hours to review it before a vote. It took 3 hours for the Legislative Reference Bureau to walk the Democrats through all of the changes to the Assembly bill that they'll be expected to vote on when they come back. Sen. Jauch said that through the 3 hours the Democrats "could barely take a breath" with all of the questions they needed to ask to understand the changes.

Rep. Cory Mason said in reference to language in the fake compromise, "Could this be drafted wrong?" As the language is "appalling" according to Sen. Bob Jauch. Unfortunately, I missed the specific language they were referring to, but I believe they were referring to the pseudo-contested cases defined in the fake compromise.

A less-talked about issue with the Assembly bill is how much money it allows a mining company to not pay the local communities. Sen. Jauch noted that the fake compromise continues to take significant amounts of money out of the local communities. Gogebic Taconite asked for predictability in the permit process, and the WWMR Act provides that, AB 426 and the fake compromise go much further than the company asked for.

I'm 99.999% sure we're going to get new mining legislation whether we like it or not. The Republican leadership, think Scott Fitzgerald who is under recall, will stop at nothing to get a mining bill because they need it as a jobs bill. They will move as little to our side as they can to get a bill, but they will. We'll likely end up with something worse if we don't support the WWMR Act, since it's what has been offered by the opposition to the Assembly bill and the Republicans need this to have any appearance of trying to create jobs. Let's try to get them to support the WWMR Act instead.

Senator Dale Schultz's passionate statement on why he crafted the WWMR Act with Jauch and how it compromises with the Republican leadership is a compelling read. I strongly encourage your indulgence.

Read A Plea for the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act for more information on why we need the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act, the failure of the Republican leadership to draft legislation in the open, and the pressure they've put on Schultz to cave.

Call or email everyone: Schultz, Republican, Democrat, we need mining legislation that doesn't curb existing environmental protections, retains our level of input and review, and gives local communities the funds they deserve. We need the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act.

I will try to update this post with new notable information that comes out of the JFC meeting as I can.

Update: (5:38pm) Democrat members of the JFC, Represenatives Jon Richards and Cory Mason and Senators Bob Jauch and Lena Taylor, have been speaking eloquently for the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act put forward by Senators Dale Schultz and Jauch. The question keeps being asked, "Why not support the bipartisan compromise in front of you?"

Robin Vos's only response so far is that they have included "60%" of the WWMR Act in the fake compromise, and therefore it should be a sufficient compromise. The problem is that much of the missing 40% is more important than the included 60%.

Update: (5:44pm) Sen. Jauch said Schultz and the Democrats have been getting a lot of hate email for supporting the WWMR Act.

Jauch said, "You cannot have us change the law every time a mine opens" so its tailored to the company opening the mine. The WWMR Act is responsible mining. He added that the WWMR Act doesn't create "obstacles but efficiencies."

Jauch also said the Democrats have also been getting a lot of emails from Republicans who don't support AB 426 and say "I'm a Republican and this bill needs to be changed."

Update: (6:01pm) The JFC just shot down the Wisconsin Way Mining Reform Act on party lines.

Update: (6:09pm) The JFC passed the fake compromise, now known as AB 426/SB 488 on to the full Senate on party lines. More info including a recap here.

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