EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU) - The debate over sand mine regulation returned to the state capitol, with local control at stake. It could have a big impact in Western Wisconsin with mines or proposed mines in several counties.
A new proposed bill would decrease local authority over regulating sand mines and leave it up to the state's department of natural resources.
The debate is now regarding whether local ordinances should be replaced by state law. The concerns are whether it takes away the voice of people in their own community and whether the state can monitor what's necessary in each area.
“This law would significantly curtail our ability to protect those roads from damage by these types of operations,” Eau Claire County Planning and Development Director Mel Erickson said.
“I don't think it takes away control, but it makes it more uniform in terms of what their programs should be,” John Robert Behling, who’s represented sand mining companies throughout Western Wisconsin, said.
Lawmakers are debating a bill that would bring that authority to the state, rather than cities, towns or counties.
“It's to make sure we have regulatory certainty. And striking that balance from making sure we have good local control but also protecting private property owners,” republican Sen. Tom Tiffany, who proposed the bill, said.
Supporters said it would give companies assurance of what they will be able to do, without the worry of how a new ordinance could affect their business.
“They clearly make a number of companies that I’ve worked with say, 'I’m not sure I want to do business in Wisconsin.' And I think if this bill passes, it'll help put more people at ease,” Behling said.
There are concerns about a lack of specific regulations that vary throughout the state.
“The groundwater is affected specifically by these mines in a very local area. And I think local health departments and planning departments probably know quite a bit more about how that might be impacted,” Erickson said.
“It would be difficult to have a statewide uniform type of regulation that would be applicable to all areas of the state and that type of thing would be difficult to take in local circumstances,” Erickson said.
“It would put it basically in the Department of Natural Resource's hands who are right now, still understaffed when it comes to these types of facilities.”
“We'll review that and if we think we need more, we're going to fund them because it's important,” Tiffany said.
He said the bill was just introduced and could be changed before it would be ready for a vote.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Republican state senator is defending his proposal to scale back local governments' authority to regulate sand mines in front of a legislative committee.
Sen. Tom Tiffany's bill would prohibit locals from regulating sand mines under so-called police powers as well as ban them from regulating blasting, setting environmental standards and collecting advance fees for road damage. The locals could still impose regulations under their zoning authority.
Tiffany, a Hazelhurst Republican, told the Senate mining committee during a public hearing Thursday he believes the bill will create regulatory uniformity so the mining industry isn't dealing with hundreds of what he called mini-Departments of Natural Resources.
Sen. Bob Jauch, a Poplar Democrat, told Tiffany the bill guts the concept of local control.
The committee isn't expected to vote on the bill.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a Republican bill that would scale back local governments' authority to regulate sand mines.
Sen. Tom Tiffany's proposal would prohibit locals from regulating sand mines under so-called police powers as well as ban them from regulating blasting and collecting advance fees for road damage. The locals could still impose regulations under their zoning authority, however.
The Senate mining committee is set to hold the meeting Thursday morning. Tiffany serves as the panel's chairman.