Gov. Scott Walker talks mining and jobs

GREEN BAY — Talk of legislation is heating up in Wisconsin as well.

Governor Scott Walker made a stop in Green Bay Wednesday morning to renew efforts to pass a bill that would change the state's mining laws.

The Republican-backed legislation hopes to streamline the permit process and bring in jobs.

"About 3,000 direct and 2,800 permanent jobs that would either be on site, or at businesses like this all across the state of Wisconsin," said Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin).

Businesses like Valley Plating and Fabricating in Green Bay. Workers make parts for the mining industry.

"We're a sub-contractor for Joy Global, building a lot of equipment for them. Then, we hire other sub-contractors doing some of this work for us," said Hal Dorband, Valley Plating and Fabricating foreman.

At the heart of the issue is a potential mine site in northern Wisconsin. An estimated two billion tons of iron ore are beneath an area in Iron and Ashland counties.

The mining company Gogebic Taconite had interest in the site, but pulled the plug after the State Senate defeated a previous bill last session.

Governor Walker says it was all about politics.

"I think there were 14 senators who were under tremendous pressure from Washington, D.C. forces not to pass legislation that would relate to jobs," said Walker.

"If you're going to do it, you got to do it right and to make sure that it's environmentally friendly. But to accuse us of doing it for political gain? There was no political gain for us. It was about doing the right thing," said State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).

Hansen voted against the bill. He says jobs should be the priority, but studies indicate a mine is still far from finished.

"Six and a half years out by the Army Corps of Engineers, before any jobs are created, before the whole process is completed," said Hansen.

"There will be public hearings and people will have plenty of input. It won't come without controversy, because there are some people in Wisconsin that are no mining, no how, and that just simply isn't acceptable. We can have safe mining in Wisconsin," said State Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere).

State Senators will be sworn in Monday. Republicans will have an 18-15 edge over Democrats.

The governor also brought his message to mine-related facilities near Wausau and in Milwaukee.

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Wisconsin (change)

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
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Governor: Scott Walker
Lieutenant Governor: Rebecca Kleefisch
Attorney General: J.B. Van Hollen

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