Monday, February 20, 2012

Mining For Votes

There are bills state Republicans have passed this last year Democrats are never going to agree with. Never.

Killing collective bargaining, making it harder for people to sue companies and corporations when they cheat, hurt or kill them, the mess of a voter ID bill they jammed through are just a couple.

Then are are bills that Democrats don't totally hate but would have worked with Republicans to try and make better or more reasonable - concealed and carry is one.

Either way, state Republicans didn't give a shit and pushed ahead - full steam as if there weren't other people in the room. Many of those decisions have led directly to the court rooms - not just because Republicans did things illegally - they did - but also because their legislation is so poorly written and at odds with the State Constitution there is no other venue to straighten out the mess.

Republicans didn't take the time in writing the bills, hosting hearings or even considering one Democratic amendment to any of their bills. Oops, the Siren takes that back, of the hundreds of amendments Democrats have proposed on their bills in the last year - they did consider one.

The redistricting maps are going to court this week - a jumbo mess of lies, secrets and fraud. It's their own fault. A half-million in tax payer money wasted to pay for Republican hubris. The Voter ID law is headed to court. Just wait until people actually try to vote - it's going to be a disaster - it wouldn't be a surprise if municipal clerks don't sue them before it's over.

The current mining bill being super charged through the legislature is another case of a badly written bill - written almost as if was designed for a court hearing not legislation. When Scott Fitzgerald dissolved the Senate mining committee last week, he tipped his hand as to how desperate they are to pass it no matter what.

No matter what the Army Corps of Engineers say, no matter what the Native Americans say and no matter what the townspeople around the proposed mine have to say. No one is listening.

But the truth is...and the shame is...not everybody is against the mine. What they are against is a bad piece of legislation that undermines the residents and environment and gives preference to the mining corporation. That is what this bill does.

After the Senate Committee was dissolved the Joint Finance Committee whipped up a hearing with a few hours notice - and some very interesting information came out in testimony by some pretty smart people.

People who know about stuff like geology as opposed to popcorn.

Jason Huberty, a Wisconsin geologist, was given a whopping two minutes to explain the chemistry of iron ore and all the other crap rock that is attached to it that winds up as trash. Amazingly he managed to do pretty good job in such a short time. Did Robin Vos ask him any questions or exhibit any curiosity in his testimony? Of course not.

There is a great article at Wisconsin Citizen Media Cooperative that explains Huberty's testimony along with his colleage, Joseph Skulan. Read it here.

Besides the free-ride mining corporations would get at the expense of environmental regulations, is a provision that excepts certain mining structures from flood plane zoning guidelines. FEMA has weighed in to say that unless the exemption is removed - it will suspend the state from the National Flood Insurance Program - the whole state.

Now this is a little more in the Siren's wheelhouse...So if you are a homeowner or a farmer or a business and you live near a flood plane or a body of water like the mighty Root, you have - or should have flood insurance. If you do, you don't get it at AllState, you get it from FEMA. No insurance company wants to carry such a loser of a deal, so the government does it.

If FEMA suspends the Flood Insurance Program in Wisconsin, people all over the state are going to be at risk with no insurance. This is enough for the editorial board at the LaCrosse Tribune to say enough is enough.

It's going to be a showdown. Democrats have proposed an amendment to the flood plane excemption, but given their past success at getting them through this administration, it's not a good bet.