The most interesting part of covering the State Capitol comes when you have legitimate
interests on both sides of an issue and by legitimate, I mean non-political interests. That’s the case in the debate over a proposed iron ore mine for Ashland and Iron Counties that we featured on Here and Now back in June.
The latest unemployment figures have Iron and Ashland counties with the fourth and sixth highest jobless rate in Wisconsin. The need for work is apparent in those areas.
Yet, the reason so many people live in the Northwoods is because of its natural beauty with some of the cleanest streams and there is concern about the impact mining would have on the environment.
Both legitimate concerns that will now be addressed by a state Senate committee formed yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). The Select Committee on Mining Jobs will look at Wisconsin’s mining laws and regulations and see if they need to be changed to accommodate the proposal from Gogebic Taconite that supporters say would create thousands of jobs and have a $2 billion impact in the region.
“If we’re serious about job creation, we owe it to our state to take a look at different and new ways to create jobs. Mining has the potential to create good‐paying, multi‐generational jobs in a part of the state that desperately needs it, so I expect these senators to take a serious look at the issue,” Fitzgerald said in a release announcing the committee.
This comes after the leaders from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians met with Gov. Scott Walker earlier this week to voice their opposition to the plan. The proposed mine is upriver from their reservation.
According to Wisconsin Public Radio, Bad River Chairman Mike Wiggins said at a press conference before meeting with the Governor that his tribe worried that run-off from the mine would harm they air they breathe and the water they drink for generations to come.
“When you’re directly downstream, you depend on these waterways for a cultural identity and a way of life for food and for your families,” Wiggins said. “That (mine is) an imminent threat.”
We’ll explore the topic further tonight on Here and Now when Frederica will feature interviews with Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) who will chair that special Senate committee and with Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) whose district includes the impacted area.
Here and Now airs tonight on Wisconsin Public Television at 7:30 p.m.
MARGARINE VS. BUTTER
For more than a hundred years, the battle over margarine in the dairy state has raged. In fact, in 1895, Wisconsin passed a law prohibiting the sale of margarine in an effort to promote its dairy industry’s alternative product, that being butter.
It took more than 70 years before Wisconsin became the last state in the country to legally remove this prohibition, but at the time, the law was tweaked to say that Wisconsin restaurants had to offer butter and not margarine unless the latter was specifically requested by the customer.
Now comes Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) who told the Associated Press, he Googled “stupid Wisconsin laws” and this one topped the list. He’s sponsoring legislation to remove the restriction.
Back in the mid-1960′s, a young Sen. Martin Schreiber (D-Milwaukee) led the push to repeal the margarine prohibition by holding a blind taste test at the Capitol to showcase the merits of the alternative to butter. When a hard-core butter supporting state senator picked margarine as better tasting, the news went national.
Frederica will talk with Schreiber about his crusade. He would go on to be elected Lieutenant Governor and become appointed governor when Gov. Patrick Lucey (D-Wisconsin) was named U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by former President Jimmy Carter.
U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS CONTINUES
This week, we’ll continue our series asking questions to those candidates seeking the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin).
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) will speak with Frederica from Washington, D.C. She is the only announced Democratic candidate at this point in the race.
Last week, we interviewed former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Nashotah) about his campaign.
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