A Northwoods legislator is asking questions about an announcement Friday concerning a board that helps local communities deal with mining.
The committee acts when mining activity begins in Wisconsin. As part of the agreement to explore, mining companies put money into the fund to help communities keep up roads and other services. When mining activity began 20 years ago, the board was known as the Mining Investment and Local Impact Board. Friday Governor Walker's office named seven people, dropping the word "mining" from the title. The short press release only named the members, including Rick Hermes of Crandon, Robert Walesewicz and Kelly Klein from Hurley.
Democratic Representative Janet Bewley from Ashland says with the naming of a majority of members on the board, the distribution of funds to local communities could begin...
"....up until this point there had been money in the fund, including a payment from Gogebic Taconite to that fund of $75,000, but there was no way for local communities to ask for help from this fund...."
During the most recent flirtation with mining in Oneida county, the county board wanted to tap the fund to help pay for the process of determining whether to allow a mining company into the town of Lynne, only to find with no members on the state board there was no mechanism to get money.
Bewley says she noted one county where the proposed G-Tac mine could be located was missing from those named Friday to the state board...
"....the absence of Ashland county is a little conspicuous, but I'm not going to go poking at it. I think that should be up to the communities and local governements themselves to decide if they are happy with the appointments..."
Bewley represents the 74th Assembly District. She is also running for the seat being vacated by long time state Senator Bob Jauch of Poplar.