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New mining package expected to be unveiled Wednesday

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - We should know Wednesday what Republicans have in mind for shortening the state’s time period for approving new mines, while loosening regulations to attract developers.

Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst said the GOP would release its proposed new mining package Wednesday.

Last night, Governor Scott Walker said in his State of the State address that he wants “safe and environmentally-sensitive mining” to provide jobs in far northern Wisconsin, where Iron County has a jobless rate of almost 12 percent.

That assumes Gogebic Taconite or some other developer would be interested in building a new mine in Iron and Ashland counties – which Gogebic was planning to build until the Senate rejected a mining package a year ago by one moderate vote. That bill would have loosened environmental rules, and limited bureaucratic challenges by mining opponents.

Walker had unemployed private union contractors join him at the podium Tuesday night, with a Wisconsin flag that depicts a miner.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the workers were from one of the few unions that supported Walker in 2010, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139.

Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey of Madison said he doubted that those people would get jobs from a new mine. He said most of the jobs would probably go to unemployed miners from nearby Michigan and Minnesota. 

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