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LTE – Ken Schmitt – 10-30-2013

This is a letter in response to a bill from Assembly Woman Ballweg and Senator Tom Tiffany which will strip towns’ ability to marginally protect citizens by licensing non-metallic mines.

The bill will also severely curtail both town and county efforts to protect their citizens from undue property tax burdens through requirements for severe road abusers to pay for road upgrades and maintance. I sent the following 4 questions to Tom Larson and Terry Moulton Thursday evening and as of Sunday I am still waiting for a response from either of them. While this may make me appear impatient, they have set the timetable, not I. This bill became somewhat public on the 16th, has a deadline for co-sponsors for the 21st, tentatively has a hearing scheduled for the 24th and it is rumored that they would like to vote on it the 24th as well. Even more interesting is that Tom Larson did not see fit to include any information on this power grab in his Friday the 18th Legislative e-mail up-date! This in no manner, shape, or form resembles good, fair, open, or honest government!

Before any legislator signs on to co-sponsor the bill or votes on this ill-conceived notion to pre-empt local control of mining I would like the following questions answered:

1. Just how has the current situation held up the industry? We have gone from a half dozen sand operations less than ten years ago to over a hundred now.

2. How is the state going to regulate this? We have boreholes in Howard which were not properly abandoned which the DNR is aware of, yet nearly 2 years later nothing has been done about it. How would you feel if this was in your watershed? Resolution of legal action in the flooding of an Amish farm in May of 2012 near Blair by Preferred Sand has not yet been concluded. Don’t you think before the state takes this on it should “catch-up” on it’s current responsibilities?

3. If local units of government are not allowed to recover road costs where and when is the state going to pony up and support local budgets to cover them?

4. Why is legislation coming from legislators outside of the sand mining “boom” area and not from those of you representing this area?

The letter up till this point was written to be published in the Wednesday Oct. 23rd edition of the Messenger, however it did not make it so I am adding the next part. As of Tuesday, Oct. 22 Speaker of the Assembly Vos said that the Assembly will not take up the measure in the fall session because they are too busy. I suspect that they are too busy dealing with contacts from angry constituents right now. They will probably try to sneak it into a budget bill or piece by piece in other legislation so they can vote for it and claim they had “no choice” because “they had to pass the main legislation”. When you see your representatives impress upon them this sort of tactic will not be acceptable and the politicians in Madison need to start representing their constituents and not the money of big oil. Oh, incidentally I am still waiting for a reply to my four questions from Senator Moulton and Representative Larson.

Ken Schmitt
Colfax, WI