Wisconsin mining bill up for vote; Sen. Schultz could block passage

CREATED Mar 6, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar 6, 2012

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MADISON - The State Senate could take a vote Tuesday on a controversial mining bill, but it appears there may not be enough votes to pass it.

The legislature's budget committee approved the bill, which the Senate is sscheduled to begin taking up Tuesday afternoon.

Richland Center Republican Senator Dale Schultz has been at the center of the battle over the bill.  He is the lone GOP member of 17 in the Senate who opposes the plan up for vote.

If he and all 16 Democrats oppose the bill, it will not pass in the Senate.

"While I m proud to be a Republican, I came here not just to be partisan, but to be a responsible representative of the people," said Schultz.

His own party has attacked him after he authored a compromise bill with Poplar Democratic State Senator Bob Jauch.

"I'm a little disappointed that Senator Schultz made a snap judgment again on whether he would support it," said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

"Dale Schultz put the nail in the coffin, saying we had to take his package or nothing," explained River Hills Republican Alberta Darling.

"I think that's unfortunate.  That's not compromising."

The GOP's top Senate leaders are still pushing Schultz, and one of them claims they're pushing the bill's direction more towards what he might be looking for.

"We're still trying to make the case," said Fitzgerald. 

"We keep going back to Dale and saying, 'Listen.  Take a look at what we're doing here.  We are moving here in a direction in which you've been kind of  holding out for."

Some unions support the bill going up for vote Tuesday, because it will mean jobs, but many environmentalists are against it.

A number of environmental groups support Schultz' s plan.

"These types of mines cause lead and other contaminants to get into our drinking water," said Kerry, an environmentalist.

Governor Scott Walker has been extensively traveling Wisconsin, pressing for support of mining.

"We think there's some hope.  We haven't drawn a line in the sand as to what version," said Walker.

At about 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, union workers and leaders were to rally in Madison.