Two widely discussed pieces of legislation authored by State Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst got legislative approval this week and are likely to be signed by Governor Walker.
The state Senate voted Tuesday to repeal the Mining Moratorium law that no longer requires companies to prove that they operated mines elsewhere without long term environmental damage. Tiffany proposed to make it easier for mining companies to get permits -- insisting there's limited environmental risk, and saying he doesn't expect a 'gold rush'...
"....I don't think there's going to be that much immediate impact. I don't think there's going to be a gold rush to northern Wisconsin. But I think you'll see some companies begin to take a look at Wisconsin once again. There hasn't been a lot of exploration going on in Wisconsin since the 1980's...."
Democrat Janet Bewley of Ashland says mining firms could have proceeded all along by showing such proof, but none have ever since environmental concerns were raised about sulfide deposits, and the state adopted its moratorium in 1998.
A less noticed piece of legislation was billed as the "Homeowners Bill of Rights".
A family near St. Croix lake was denied by local zoning when they wanted to sell an adjacent lot they owned to finance the repair of a next door waterfront cabin. It went to the U.S. Supreme Court who backed local officials in the denial. Tiffany authored the bill in the Senate to change the zoning rules to allow the family to use the lot and to allow construction if the substandard sized lots were legal when they were created.
He says it changes the conditional use process...
"....that give property owners more certainty in being able to hold their property. For example, there's a merged lots provision that counties put in place that forces people to merge their lots and we thing that is unnecessary...."
Lower courts had agreed the family hadn't lost property value, because the merged lots offered enough space to build a new house that met current rules regarding waterfront development.