HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Sunday, October 20, 2013


PHOTO: State Senator Kathleen Vinehout and yours truly at "Save the Hills" meeting, Menomonie, WI, Saturday, October 19

State Senator Vinehout spoke to alert us 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 Senator Vinehout's 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, which is currently in draft form but is expected to move very quickly through the legislative process, was just released late yesterday. Vinehout learned that 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, we 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.

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.

It prevents all local authorities from passing protections for their own air and water quality and water quantity....

It prevents all local authorities from monitoring their own air and water quality and water quantity.

It further erodes local governments' ability to regulate frac sand mining, only giving them a say when it comes time to clean up the mess and even then, holding them to the lowest possible standard.

It prevents local governments' ability to control blasting in their communities.

It effectively prevents local governments from collecting funds from those - like frac sand companies - that destroy local roads.

The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship through Monday.

Kathleen strongly opposes the legislation and wonders why politicians in Madison should seek to control our local communities. They don’t live there.

I don’t know why any legislator from western Wisconsin would turn control over our land to politicians in Madison. We all need to contact our representatives on the mining committees and ask them the same question.

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