Prairie Du Chien (WXOW)—Governor Scott Walker toured Dillman Manufacturing in Prairie Du Chien Thursday afternoon.
Before the tour Walker met with about 100 Dillman employees and spoke about a bill the State Senate has been working on that would rewrite Wisconsin's iron mining regulations to help Florida based Gogebic Taconite dig an open-pit mine just South of Lake Superior.
The bill hit a road block yesterday when Sen. Dale Schultz, (R) Richland Center, said he wouldn't support it over environmental concerns. Schultz said after meeting with Department of Natural Resources officials, on Monday, to talk about the bill, lawmakers need publicly consult experts.
"For every question answered, new uncertainties arose, and there was a decided lack of expertise in the room to answer them," Schultz said. "These types of long-lasting and far reaching environmental changes should not be made by a room full of legislators, staff and a hand full of DNR folks behind closed doors."
Schultz's decision not to support the bill means republicans don't have the majority vote.
The bill passed would also change flood plain zoning laws statewide meaning homeowners statewide could lose federal flood insurance coverage. In La Crosse County, 944 properties are at risk for losing flood insurance.
"If homeowners can no longer obtain federal flood insurance coverage, their property would essentially become worthless," Rep. Steve Doyle, (D) Onalaska said. "No bank will issue a mortgage for property in a floodplain that is not covered by flood insurance."
"One area we are trying to address is the flood plain and the quark in the Assembly version that would affect flood insurance," Walker said. "We want to make sure that's 100-percent corrected. We don't want anyone to be without capacity to have flood insurance in the state of Wisconsin."
Walker told Dillman employees Gogebic Taconite could bring 2,300 jobs to the state; he said Dillman could see direct effects of it because they manufacture equipment used for mining.
"You have a unique opportunity for companies like Dillman and others to participate in the future. To add more jobs and add more opportunities because of the mine that will go up in Northwest Wisconsin," he said.
Walker said all of those jobs will help him keep his campaign promise to bring 250,000 jobs back to Wisconsin by 2015.
"You think back, long, long ago when Vince Lombardi first took over the Packers," Walker said. "They had a losing record and bout four years later he got them to the world championship, or the Super Bowl we'd call it these days. But, it's not going to happen overnight."
He said they're on the right track; they went from losing 150,000 jobs to gaining jobs last year and hopefully gaining more now.
Walker asked Dillman employees, if they liked what he was telling them about mining, to call their legislators and ask them to vote in favor of the mining bill.
State Legislators have until mid-March to make a decision before the session ends. If a compromise hasn't been reached they could be asked to come back for extra sessions.
Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams has hinted the company might give up on Wisconsin if a bill doesn't pass this session. On Monday he said the company would be willing to wait through any sort of extra session.
The Associated Press contributed to the contents of this article.
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