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Mining bill a top priority of 2013 Wisconsin Legislature

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MADISON -- In 2012, a mining bill was shot down by lawmakers in Wisconsin, but now, it is a top priority at the state Capitol. 

Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins from the Bad River Band of Native Americans raised concerns on Tuesday, January 8th that a mining bill will clear the way for industrial deregulation and environmental destruction.

Republican lawmakers say mining will be the first bill considered by the 2013 Legislature.

Rep. Jeff Stone (R - Greendale) says even though the mine would be located 350 miles from Milwaukee, a mine could mean jobs in southeastern Wisconsin.

"Mining is at the very top of our list. This is jobs -- not only in the northern part of the state directly related to mines that may open, but it's jobs in Milwaukee and throughout the state," Rep. Stone said.

Companies like P&H Mining Equipment, Caterpillar Mining and Joy Global make mining equipment and have a heavy presence in the Milwaukee area.

"At a time when all of us are talking about jobs, we're hopeful we can get legislation passed soon and get working on construction," Gov. Walker said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R - Burlington) says he wants a bill introduced by next week, hearings within the month and a bill passed by the spring.

"My hope is to in the end, have a bill that gets bipartisan support, but most importantly brings the mining jobs to Wisconsin in a way that will actually accomplish that goal -- not just have a bill passed that never achieves it," Rep. Vos said.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarippa (D - Milwaukee) sits on the Assembly's Jobs, Economy and Mining Committee. 

"That will be a bill that will truly challenge the commitment to bipartisanship. I'm looking forward to ensuring that that bill is going to bring jobs here to Wisconsin and at the same time not compromise our natural resources," Zamarippa said.

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