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Legislation aimed at restricting access to land near mine site doesn't have votes

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The author of a bill to cut off public recreational access near the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine says he doesn't have the votes to pass it. 

The Wisconsin Senate is meeting Tuesday for the only time this month -- and Hazelhurst Republican Tom Tiffany got his measure pulled from the agenda. He still believes the measure is needed to protect mine workers from violent protestors like those who damaged Gogebic Taconite's equipment and stole a worker's camera in June in Iron County.  

However, Tiffany says some of his fellow Republicans believe the cutoff of recreational access is too restrictive. 

Green Bay Republican Rob Cowles says it closes too much land -- and the bill is moving so fast that many of his colleagues have not had a chance to review it. 

As a committee chairman, Tiffany rammed his bill through a public hearing and a panel vote on back to back days a couple weeks ago. 

Gogebic Taconite has mineral rights on land that's in the state's managed forest program, which gives landowners tax breaks for providing access for things like hunting and fishing. 

Last Saturday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the bill would have given the property's owners a $900,000 break on its property taxes even with the cutoff of recreational access. 

Tiffany says he'll try again to get his measure passed in October -- possibly with a compromise to let deer hunters use the land in November.