The following editorial was written by state Rep. Mark Honadel. Click here for more on the mining legislation, which passed an Assembly committee on Tuesday.
Wisconsin has a long tradition of hard working people. Our statehood has its roots in agriculture and mining, and soon after that our state began growing its strength in manufacturing, too.
Wisconsin consistently ranks near the top of states with a manufacturing intensive economy. Our many skilled craftsmen produce large steel fabricated goods, machine tools, forgings, ships, and many other products. Our can-do work ethic lends itself to efficient, safe, and productive industries – we know how to "make it."
Our agriculture sector is one of the best producers in the nation, leading the way in milk, cheese, and dairy products. I grew up on a dairy farm and apple orchard, so I know first-hand the hard work it takes to maintain farms and produce quality products. Our Wisconsin farmers know how to "milk it."
Finally, the third leg I see in Wisconsin's trifecta of jobs is mining. Our history is rooted so much in mining that a miner appears on our flag and the badger is our state symbol, referring to the settlers that burrowed underground in mines. Unfortunately, Wisconsin's mining laws in recent years have effectively made mining non-existent through an uncertain and open-ended process that discourages capital investment.
The bill to be considered by the State Assembly this week reforms the process by establishing clear and achievable standards to issue a permit for an iron ore mine. We can pass legislation that forms a reasonable process for active mining while still protecting our environment.
The result of encouraging the mining industry to come back to Wisconsin will mean thousands of jobs and new investment in our state. Jobs will be created around the state from Iron and Ashland Counties where the mine would be located to southeastern Wisconsin where mining equipment is manufactured.
I believe we create a framework for environmentally responsible mining. It's been done before and it can be done again. I want to revive and strengthen our state economy. The way to do that is by creating new economic opportunities. This legislation does just that. It's an opportunity to attract new manufacturers to the state, retain manufacturers already here, and spark economic growth around Wisconsin to create family-supporting jobs. We must once again make it, milk it, and mine it to be successful in Wisconsin.
Mark Honadel is the state representative for the 21st Assembly District, which includes South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and a part of Milwaukee.