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State Assembly looks to vote on mining bill March 6

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Assembly could send the controversial mining incentive package to the governor in about a week-and-a-half.

Republican Speaker Robin Vos says his leadership is aiming for a vote on March 6th.

The bill is designed to make it easier for Gogebic Taconite to open a new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to endorse the package on Monday, and a vote in the Senate is possible on Wednesday of next week.

Majority Republicans say the bill would provide jobs to a region that badly needs them. Democrats say it would hurt the environment in the north, take away the public’s ability to challenge the DNR’s mining decisions, and let Gogebic Taconite escape $170 million a year in mining fees which are now required by state law for a host of environmental programs.

Republicans say the fees don’t make sense in Gogebic’s case, because they apply to waste rock that would cover the pit when the mine closes.

There’s been no indication that the Senate won’t have the votes to pass the measure within the GOP’s three-member majority. And almost no suspense is expected in the Assembly, where Republicans have about a 20 vote majority. 

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