UpFront: Sen. Carpenter hopes for special session on mining bill

State Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, says he supports overhauling the state’s mining laws but his understanding and belief is “I did not break my promise” when he voted against the mining bill.

Carpenter told on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” over the weekend he remains optimistic the Legislature can pass a mining bill with bipartisan support this year and hopes lawmakers will take up the issue in a special session.

He said the main problem throughout the mining bill process was a lack of openness from GOP Senate leadership. He said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Gov. Scott Walker never spoke with him about the legislation.

“There were a lot of things because it was done in secret that caused this train wreck to happen,” Carpenter said on Sunday’s show, which is produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com .

Before the bill was brought to the floor, there had been speculation that Carpenter would cast the deciding vote for the legislation. Carpenter said he was interested in supporting a mining bill that helped bring jobs to Milwaukee and was told the weekend before the vote there were serious negotiations with Sens. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, and Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, who had a competing version of the mining bill.

But he was later told neither the guv nor others had talked to Schultz and Jauch. He said if the guv, much like Tommy Thompson used to, had gotten involved in discussions, something could have been worked out, lawmakers could have gone to the floor and a bill would have passed.

“But you have to have someone who’s willing to negotiate, not be a cheerleader from the side,” he said.

Carpenter said the JFC version could have been tweaked enough to attract bipartisan support if Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, would have allowed negotiations to continue.

“We didn’t vote against mining; we voted against the Joint Finance version,” Carpenter said.

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