The debate over mining is likely to be a major focus of a town hall meeting Monday night hosted by State Sen. Chris Larson.
The town hall will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28 at the Oak Creek Public Library, 8620 S. Howell Ave. Larson says the event will allow him to talk about issues facing the community and state and listen to the concerns of residents.
In recent days, Larson has expressed his opposition to the controversial mining bill introduced by Republicans earlier this month.
He said the legislation "ignores the public input heard during the bipartisan committee hearings, does not take into account the concerns raised by federal regulators, and was drafted without input from Democratic legislators."
"Mining can be done right, but it requires working with key stakeholders and maximizing opportunities for public input, particularly in the affected areas," Larson wrote in his weekly newsletter.
"Despite receiving significant testimony on mining legislation last session, (the bill) does not address the serious problems that plagued the widely-criticized, partisan mining bill that failed last time around. Unfortunately, promises by the bill's authors to integrate new ideas have been broken."
Oak Creek's other delegate to the state Legislature, Republican state Rep. Mark Honadel, is a co-sponsor of the bill. He argues the bill would help grow jobs in southeastern Wisconsin, in addition to jobs in the northern part of the state.
"Not only will this provide family-supporting jobs in northern Wisconsin, but it will have a direct impact on businesses in the Milwaukee area such as Caterpillar and Joy Global," Honadel said.
Larson said he supports an alternative mining bill introduced by Democratic state Sen. Tim Cullen and Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz, which he called "common sense legislation Wisconsin's middle class families demand."
That legislation differs substantially with the Republicans' bill in terms of change to environmental protections, how much money would go to communities affected by mining, and the amount of time given to the state Department of Natural Resources, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report.
Larson, now the Senate Minority Leader, hosted a similar town hall meeting in Oak Creek last June.
He has several other town halls throughout his district scheduled for January and February; see a full list on his website.