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Lawmakers disagree on sand mining regulation bill

By Mary Jo Ola,
Published On: Oct 24 2013 05:44:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 24 2013 09:48:37 PM CDT

State lawmakers are butting heads over a bill that, if passed, would reform local governments' ability to regulate sand mining in Wisconsin.

Thursday's hearing was packed with people waiting to learn more about the bill known as SB 349.

Sen. Thomas Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, defended the bill during a public hearing in front a Senate committee.

"In terms of environmental regulation, generally speaking what we're seeing with this bill is that the state is the environmental regulator not local units of government," said Tiffany.

The bill would limit local governments' ability to regulate sand mining through zoning ordinances only.
It would ban them from setting environmental standards and regulating blasting.

Members of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group voiced their support for the bill, saying it is inefficient to have rules and regulations vary between all levels of government.

At the same time, Dane County community leaders held a press conference at the City County Building in opposition to the bill.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the bill undermines the concept of local government and would stop current efforts to require non-conforming mines to apply for conditional use permits.

Parisi also said a one-size-fits-all approach to regulating sand mining does not work in Wisconsin given the diverse terrain and environmental impacts.

"We need the tools we have to ensure that mining operations have the proper conditions put on them so we can maintain the quality of life that is so important to us in Dane County," said Parisi.

The bill will go on to an executive session where members of the Senate Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining and Revenue Committee will vote on it. That vote has yet to be scheduled.

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