Republicans have a good mining bill. They have the votes. So why are they making concessions to a minority that has no clout and that has made it clear they want to obstruct everything on the GOP agenda?
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Majority Leader Scott Suder said Thursday they will propose changes to their controversial mining bill next week to address some of the concerns of Democratic lawmakers that a shortened permitting time frame will put the state at odds with federal agencies.
In a meeting with the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board Thursday, the top Assembly leaders said they met for three hours Wednesday with key Democrats including Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, to hear their concerns.
We're committed to finding common ground," said Suder, R-Abbottsford. "We're actively engaging the minority. We want to make sure that we do this right."
It's possible that this simply involves technical issues, rather than actual concessions
The GOP bill sets a 420-day deadline for the state Department of Natural Resources to act on a mine permit application and allows one 60-day extension. Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have testified that the federal agency's permitting process takes a minimum of two years with action on some permits taking four years or longer. That could lead, according to Democrats and other critics, to two separate permitting processes, which they say would be more expensive and actually end up lengthening the time it takes for a mine to get permitted.
Suder said one amendment to the GOP bill would resolve such potential conflicts.
But at least some in the GOP caucus are concerned about the conciliatory approach. First, they say, the concessions" are unlikely to win any Democrat votes.
Second, they worry that the leaders meeting with the Democrat leaders and "their need to please them is going to be a problem."
He (Vos) believes people bipartisan compromise," says one leggie. "They don't. they really just want to feel like they have some control of their job -- and their family's finanaces. Moving to the middle on issues trying to appease them won't accomlish that and could lead to loss of GOP control."