Larson: Work Must Continue On Mining Bill
Oak Creek's state senator pushes for compromise day after Senate rejects legislation.
A day after the state Senate rejected the latest mining bill and Gogebic Taconite announced it is abandoning plans for a $1.5 billion mine, state Sen. Chris Larson still held out hope that a bipartisan mining proposal could proceed.
Larson released a statement Wednesday in which he criticized Republicans and said legislators must continue to work toward a compromise, even if a bill can't be adopted by the time the Legislative session ends March 15.
"Despite the actions of Republicans, a compromise can and must be reached," he said. "We still have the opportunity to move Wisconsin forward by passing legislation that will make our state an attractive investment for all mining companies. It's time to end the mine games. The majority in the Senate and I stand ready to pass a responsible, long-term compromise.
"A bipartisan bill is still available that will give prospective companies the necessary tools to create much-needed jobs across the state. I have signed on in support of this proposal that respects our workers, prospective businesses, and culture of conservation."
Before Tuesday's Senate vote, Republican state Rep. Mark Honadel spoke with Oak Creek Patch and called on Democratic senators from southeastern Wisconsin to put politics aside and step up on a solution. He said thousands of jobs in mining equipment in this area are at stake, in addition to the jobs that would be created by the Gogebic Taconite mine.
Honadel was an advocate of a bill, which aimed to streamline the mining permit process, that passed the Assembly in January. But it ran into opposition in the Senate, and the latest version was rejected by senators 17-16 Tuesday. Republican Dale Schultz voted with all 16 Democrats in opposition to the bill.
Schultz and state Sen. Bob Jauch have floated an alternative proposal, which Larson referred to in his statement, but it has failed to gain any traction in the Legislature.
The Senate sent the bill it voted down Tuesday to a legislative committee for more work.