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Mining: Gov. Scott Walker says the recall elections showed voters want lawmakers to cooperate, and signals that new legislation to advance an iron mining project in northern Wisconsin could be among the bills that move forward this fall along bipartisan lines. The legislation — which was the subject of considerable speculation this spring but was never formally introduced — would likely be aimed at shortening the state permitting process for the Gogebic Taconite-proposed mine affecting far northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says that in exchange for delaying the legislation until the fall floor session, Democratic Senator Bob Jauch — who represents the area — vowed to work with Republicans. Jauch says he’s just looking for an equal voice in the process, and that he’s had conversations with the Walker administration about the bill. In addition, the state DNR says three other mining projects are being explored in Marathon, Oneida and Taylor counties, while a fourth would affect the banks Menominee River that splits Wisconsin and northern Michigan.
Agriculture: A new report prepared for 12 land-grant universities says federal, state and local support for those institutions in the Upper Midwest — particularly their agricultural experiment stations and extension services — should be sustained or expanded due to their role in creating jobs and economic growth. The Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle Institute warns that, “Now is not the time to short-change investment in the fundamental institutions underpinning economic growth in agbiosciences,” while Rick Klemme, Dean of UW-Extension’s Cooperative Extension Service and a member of the committee that commissioned the study, says the agriculture sustains $60 billion in economic activity and 350,000 jobs in the Badger State. Meanwhile, a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects Wisconsin’s corn crop at 3.3 million acres, good for eighth in the country, with a yield of 159 bushels per acre — above the national average of 153 bushels.
Property values: The equalized value of Wisconsin’s total property fell by 1.8 percent in 2010 — the third straight year of declining values — according to a new report from the state Department of Revenue. As of Jan. 1, 2011, the total value was $487 billion. The decrease includes a drop in the overall value of both residential and commercial property. State residential property value dropped 1.6 percent to $347 billion, while commercial property values dropped 2.2 percent. Manufacturing property was virtually unchanged in value over 2009 and waterfront properties showed a slight increase in value. But agricultural property value dropped 3.4 percent to $2.2 billion.