Governor Scott Walker received $40k in campaign contributions from Florida-based mining company Gogebic Taconite (GT). The bill (WI AB426) was introduced into the State Assembly by committee, which is unusual. Since no Assembly members were named authors of the bill, some opponents suggested it was authored by its primary beneficiary, Gogoebic Taconite (a tactic right from the ALEC playbook). GOP proponents of the bill say it will "streamline the permitting process", but what it will really do is steam-roll over environmental policies that protect wetlands, surface and groundwater quality, reduce/eliminate public input to the permitting process, and place a ceiling on GT's financial responsibility for the permitting investigation costs. Wisconsin would have to pick up the tab after that cap is reached.
What I found amusing in Thursday morning's newspaper (Wausau Daily Herald) was an article about the bill, now in the WI State Senate. State Senator Dale Schultz (R) stated that he would not support the Assembly version of the bill. Senator Schultz's vote is crucial to the success of the GOP measure, since the GOP holds a minimal 17-16 majority in Wisconsin's State Senate after the summer of 2011 recall elections. Before the recalls, the Senate held a 19-14 majority when Governor Walker railroaded his "budget repair" bill through the WI state legislature.
Senator Schultz might not deserve to be in the "Good" spot of Thom Hartmann's Good, Bad and the Very, Very Ugly, but this GOP Senator did vote against his party and with his conscience on these measures:
1) He introduced an amendment that would PRESERVE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, but require slightly higher benefit and pension contributions. Senate Democrats (the "fab-14") saw it as the beginning of a reasonable compromise. Schultz voted NAY on Walker's budget repair bill that eliminated collective bargaining and for the most part was shunned by his GOP colleagues.
2) Schultz also voted against a GOP bill to use the new gerrymandered district boundaries for the recall elections, saying publicly that if he were to be recalled it should be by the people who elected him.
3) Schultz voted against a Senate bill weakening wetland protection laws in Wisconsin allowing more "streamlining" of business developments.
4) One obvious strike against Senator Dale Schultz is that he voted for the voter ID law in Wisconsin, but overall he's pretty good for a senator with an "R" after his name.