The chief Senate sponsor of a bill that would weaken local control over Wisconsin's booming sand mining industry says his legislation needs work and he doesn't expect the Senate will take it up before next year.
The bill is supported by companies that mine and process silica sand that's used by the oil and gas drilling industry for hydraulic fracturing.
But Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ) that local government officials have raised valid objections that need to be addressed.
"Realistically, we are not going to see the Senate vote on this, this year," Tiffany said. He declined to say whether the Senate mining committee, which he chairs, will vote before year's end.
The bill was the subject of a contentious, overflow hearing before the committee Thursday. Tiffany said the measure would shift regulatory authority to the state and eliminate an emerging patchwork of restrictive local ordinances. But opponents said the proposal amounts to an unwarranted attack on small government and could put people who live around the mining operations at risk.
The bill's prospects are also uncertain in the Assembly, where Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has said his chamber won't hold a vote until next spring at the earliest.
Wisconsin's silica sand mining industry has grown from five mines in 2010 to 105 as of April, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. With the increase have come concerns about potential health hazards from silica dust and damage to roads, leading local governments to pass their own ordinances governing mines in their areas.