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Republicans applaud mining bill passage, Dems. expect litigation

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MADISON (WITI) -- On Monday, March 11th, Gov. Scott Walker will sign the controversial mining bill. What is less certain is what will happen next, and how many jobs, if any will be coming to the state.

What this mining bill means as far as jobs is a matter of who you ask, who sues over this bill and whether there will even be an iron mine.

"I think we have the potential for thousands of good paying jobs and this is what the regulatory reform is all about," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said.

Vos and Gov. Walker declared political victory in passing streamlined Wisconsin mining regulation.

Meanwhile, Democrats like Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett have pushed the pause butotn.

"Clearly they did not consider the environmental concerns in the way they should have clearly they didn`t consider the native American concerns. I think they`ve invited litigation by the way they`ve done this thing and I think that`s what we`re going to see is litigation which is unfortunate," Mayor Barrett said.

Barrett said he questions how many jobs will be created in southeastern Wisconsin. He says of more immediate concern is that the Republicans did not take into account the concerns of environmentalists and Native American communities.

"The appropriate measure is to sit down with the Native Americans -- to sit down with the local governments and companies and iron out a bill that allows for the creation of jobs in northern Wisconsin for mining," Mayor Barrett said.

"Everybody has the right to go to court. I don`t necessarily like that fact but at the same time they have every right under our Constitution to do that. They told us more than a year ago they were going to sue no matter what bill passed -- Democrat, Republican, bi-partisan," Vos said.

And with that, Vos says his party pushed the mining bill forward without stripping environmental regulations. He says they simply streamlined a path to potentially creating a mine.

"That`s what this bill is about -- making sure the environmental regulators have a timeline to give an answer. If the answer is 'no' I`ll be disappointed but I`ll accept the consequences," Vos said.

Many environmentalists take issue with Vos' final point, saying new language in the bill leaves room for companies to apply for environmental standard exemptions.

This will no doubt be something for the courts to figure out.

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