Please see Sen. Vinehout’s alert on fast-moving bad legislationFrac Sand Mining Alert
I am writing to alert you to a bill that appears to roll back the ability of locals to control what happens within their boundaries, especially with regard to sand mining.
This legislation is aimed at taking away local ability to protect health and safety in communities; including locals’ ability to put limits on water quality, water quantity, air quality, use of explosives and road use contracts.
The Walker Administration has been very reluctant to provide adequate resources for the enforcement of existing laws to protect health and safety. Local rules are the last line of defense for people.
This bill is related to sand mines. However, in my preliminary discussion with Legislative Council attorneys, the bill is not specific to just non-metallic mining (sand and gravel extraction). For example, if a community sets rules in a way other than zoning (such as police powers) they may lose this authority.
The bill is currently in draft form but I expect it to move very quickly through the legislative process. I attached a copy of the bill and the co-sponsorship memo for your information and use. The bill is complex and likely has long reaching implications for local control.
The bill was just released late yesterday. I learned there will likely be a joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly committees related to mining on Thursday October 24, 2013 at 9 AM in Madison. If it is at all possible, you should make plans to attend this hearing. The bill could potentially be voted out of committee at this hearing. THIS LEGISLATION COULD BECOME LAW IN JUST A FEW WEEKS.
Over the next several days I will be working with the Legislature’s attorneys to understand the details of the legislation. If you have specific questions please email them to me and I will pass them on to the attorneys. I will share details about the bill as I learn of them.
The bill comes on the heels of other legislation that takes away powers from local people to control what happens in their neighborhoods. This is part of a larger pattern in Governor Walker’s administration. The bill appears to be written by mining interests – many of which are owned by out-of-state companies.
Everyone who cares about having a voice in what happens in their neighborhood needs to pay attention to this bill. It certainly appears to take away local ability to protect communities and gives sand mines the ability to run roughshod over local people.
I strongly oppose the legislation. I wonder why politicians in Madison should seek to control our local communities. They don’t live here. I don’t know why any legislator from western Wisconsin would turn control over our land to politicians in Madison. I ask you to ask my colleagues on the mining committees the same question.
Assembly Committee on Mining