Legislators are expecting a packed house Saturday at an "up north" listening session on the proposed Democratic and Republican iron ore mining bills. It'll feature good old-fashioned northern hospitality.
Not that Madison is rude or anything, but there was a fistful of rules at last month's joint legislative public hearing on the Republican mining bills. Chairwoman Mary Williams read the list to start the show: "There will be no yielding of time, threats, singing, chanting, dancing, yelling, disruptions, instruments, props, inappropriate gestures, saving of seats, profanity, costumes, interpretive dance or any behavior deemed offensive or disruptive by committee chairs."
And people were given two minutes to say their piece. State Representative Janet Bewley of Ashland says this weekend, they'll get three minutes or so ... and if someone wants to dance or bang a ceremonial drum, they're fine with that. "People of the North know how to conduct themselves without being scolded into a pretty rigid set of rules."
She expects the 400-person-capacity AmericInn auditorium to be packed. "The people of the North really like to turn out and have their voices heard. I'm expecting that we'll be very busy listening to people all day. I'm expecting a good turn out."
One more thing: more than 100 people made the five-hour trip from up north to speak in Madison last month, but weren't given the chance. So, Bewley says they'll move to the front of the line Saturday.
The listening session begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at AmericInn in Ashland and will be broadcast live by WPR stations in Ashland and Superior.