Walker seeks business backing for mining bill

Former Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan is scheduled to address the Senate’s Select Committee on Mining today. Sullivan, head of the Wisconsin Mining Association, will talk to the committee led by Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville.

His appearance comes the day after Gov. Scott Walker urged business leaders to lobby state lawmakers for a new iron mining bill, later adding new rules would definitely bring Gogebic Taconite back to the state.

Walker’s speech to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce once again touched on his budget priorities, with Walker mentioning the possibility of a middle-class tax cut, tying higher education funding to performance measures and job creation efforts and repealing unnecessary regulations.

But Walker ended the speech by urging business leaders, including those who have no proximity to mining, to push the Legislature to pass an iron mining bill early next session. He said a bill was needed in the early portion of the next session so work on permitting could get underway soon and not run into seasonal issues late next year.

GTAC pulled out of a proposed mine project after legislation overhauling permitting floundered in the state Senate earlier this year.

“I think there’s no doubt that GTAC themselves, who have the initial rights to that deposit in Northwest Wisconsin, would come back if something similar to what was discussed and debated last year was passed,” Walker told reporters after his speech. “They’re looking for certainty. They want to make sure that if they make that initial investment the rules aren’t going to change halfway through the process.”

GTAC spokesman Bob Seitz said while the company has been testing in the upper peninsula of Michigan, it would come back to Wisconsin if a measure similar to last year’s Assembly bill passed.

Seitz said he knows Walker has been in communication with the company, adding the guv “doesn’t take no for an answer.”

“I know that Governor Walker has been a very enthusiastic supporter,” Seitz said. “He’s part of the reason they’re still encouraged by what’s going on here, because he doesn’t let go.”