The war of words between two northern Wisconsin senators has heated up over the effort to pass new mining legislation, with demands for an apology, and charges that the mining company is writing the new bill.
The proposed Penokee Hills mine sits in Democrat Bob Jauch's sprawling northwoods senate district. Jauch isn't happy that the only public hearing on the subject took place in Madison, and he's demanding an apology from a fellow northwoods senator, Republican Tom Tiffany. "Senator Tiffany needs to apologize. He simply gaveled the hearing to a close. There were dozens, if not a hundred. people who had been waiting since 9:00 in the morning. He didn't have the decency to say 'I'm sorry.' He simply said, 'your voice doesn't matter.'"
Tiffany says Jauch won't get an apology, and there were plenty of hearings in the last session of the legislature. "We had a couple hearings, including listening sessions up in northern Wisconsin. We had one in Milwaukee. We've been around the state. This issue's really been thoroughly vetted, and it's time for the rubber to meet the road. I have no apologies for trying to create jobs here in Wisconsin."
Jauch is also accusing Tiffany of letting mining company Gogebic Taconite write the new bill. "It was the company's request to further weaken the state role in the protection of our wetlands. The company asked for it, and the Republicans genuflected."
Tiffany says the Republicans were right to ask the company for its input. "Have we talked to the mining company? Absolutely. You know, when we write bills that affect agriculture, we go talk to farmers."
Bob Jauch has scheduled his own hearing on mining legislation, February 9th in Ashland. Tom Tiffany says he probably won't attend. The two Senators made their remarks on a Wisconsin Public Radio regional talk show.