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Local Rules for Mining a Hot Issue

There has been no shortage of opinions Thursday, on a bill to limit local regulation of mining. The Senate Committee took in hours of public comment before calling it a day at 7 pm.

A couple Republican legislators want the state to set the rules regarding air and water standards, highway use and the use of explosives.

Marty Lehman of the Badger Mining Corporation testified at a Senate committee hearing, that since the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last year that towns could use their police powers to set rules, his company has faced increasing demands.

“We’ve been approached by a number of townships now; they’re asking what kind of arrangements can be made, not necessarily because they’re concerned about environmental, health or safety concerns. They're looking at, what can they get for revenue generation out of us now,” Lehman said.

While Lehman wants statewide rules, Democratic Senator Bob Jauch does not think Madison should make decisions for towns.

“I’d call that the Moscow model. That isn’t small government, that’s big government dictating all of the terms to these local officials,” Jauch said.

The bill would only let communities use zoning to regulate mining operations. Hundreds of towns do not have zoning powers.