MADISON, Wis. - A dozen members of the state Assembly plan to tour a potential mine site in far northwestern Wisconsin.
Republicans are pushing a bill to streamline state mining regulations in hopes of persuading Gogebic Taconite to dig a huge open-pit iron mine along the border between Ashland and Iron counties.
Rep. Mary Czaja, a freshman Republican from Irma, is organizing a tour of the site for Friday morning. The site is outside Czaja's district, but aide Emily Loe said Czaja toured the site several weeks ago, found the visit productive and thought other legislators would benefit from seeing the area.
Loe said six Republicans and six Democrats have agreed to the visit. She said the visit is informal and the legislators will pay their own way.
Meanwhile, the authors of opposing mining bills appeared together Thursday at a Madison Club luncheon sponsored by WisPolitics.com.
Democrat Sen. Tim Cullen and Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, pointed out the differences in their bills.
Tiffany explained the specifics in his bill, which Cullen said focuses on proposed changes to environmental rules.
"The major difference between Sen. Tiffany's bill and mine (is) I don't change environmental standards; he does, hence 206 pages versus 25," Cullen said.
"We want to be very specific, and we wanted to be very specific to the regulatory agency that this is how we want you to go about this process," Tiffany said.
Tiffany's bill needs committee approval but Republicans expect it'll have the votes to pass the full Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
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