Wis. GOP begins mining bill push with hearing

CREATED Jan 23, 2013

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  • Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams (foreground) and company lobbyist Bob Seitz testify Wednesday during a joint hearing on the proposed mining bill at the state Capitol. Democrats are complaining this morning about the way the chairs are handling joint legislative mining committees. READ MORE Image by Mark Hoffman - Journal Sentinel

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republicans have started their push to pass mining legislation at a messy public hearing.

Dozens of people jammed the hearing Wednesday before the state Senate and Assembly mining committees in the state Capitol. The Assembly panel's chairwoman, Republican Rep. Mary Williams, declared committee members would be allowed to ask only two questions of each person who speak.

Democratic committee members flew into a rage when Williams used the rules to cut off questions for the bill's authors. Rep. Brett Hulsey, a Madison Democrat, shouted out that the hearing amounted to a kangaroo court.

The bill would make sweeping changes to Wisconsin's mining regulations in hopes of persuading Gogebic Taconite to open an iron mine just south of Lake Superior. Conservationists contend the project would devastate the pristine area.