Saturday, March 09, 2013
Friday, March 08, 2013
March 8, 2013
CONTACT: Rep. Jeff Mursau (888) 534-0036 http://Mursau.Assembly.Wisconsin.Gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Madison … Representative Jeff Mursau (R–Crivitz) and the Wisconsin State Assembly voted to approve reforms to state statutes regulating iron mining in Wisconsin on Thursday. The legislation separates iron mining regulations from those applied to sulfide mining for copper, gold and zinc mines. Sulfide mining regulations and the mining moratorium on sulfide mining remain in place, unchanged.
“Mining operations and the jobs they create depend on responsive state and federal regulators,” Mursau said. “SB 1 ensures DNR responsiveness and retains the environmental protection Wisconsin citizens have come to expect.”
Senate Bill (SB1) retains the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) authority to deny a mining permit when a mining application fails to convince DNR it can be done safely. The Wisconsin constitution’s public-trust-doctrine remains in place. Further, Wisconsin citizens retain access to contested case hearings and the courts to ensure DNR, ACOE, and EPA hold mining operations to high environmental standards before, during and after mining.
“These reforms are a good first step,” Mursau said. “Now it’s up to the private sector to convince state and federal regulators they have a business plan that protects our environment and create new jobs.”
The bill passed the State Senate 17 – 16 and the State Assembly 58 – 39. The bill now heads to Governor Scott Walker for his expected signature.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
PHOTO RELEASE: Coast Guard overflight images of winter storm flooding in Ocean City, NJ
|Streets are flooded in Ocean City, N.J., Thursday, March 7, 2013, after a winter storm passed through the area. The photos was taken by a Coast Guard crewmember aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City during a training flight. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Lyon|
|Gun Owners of America|
Senate “Deal” Would Impose
Even More Gun Bans
Gifts, gun raffles and multiple sales of guns would be effectively banned
Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up four bills arising out of the Newtown tragedy:
* The Feinstein bill — which would ban millions of shotguns, rifles, handguns and magazines that Americans can legally own -- but which will probably die on the Senate floor.
* The universal gun registry — which may also die on the Senate floor — unless a last-minute deal with Sen. Tom Coburn brings it to life.
* Legislation by Barbara Boxer, which throws away $100,000,000 on school safety studies, but doesn’t immediately mention guns.
* And, currently the biggest danger, the Leahy-Gillibrand-Kirk bill, which has ominously been labeled a “gun trafficking” bill.
In regard to this latter piece of legislation (S. 443), the bill is being sold inside the Beltway as a bipartisan “compromise” because anti-gun Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is a cosponsor of it.
But S. 443 would dramatically threaten to put gun owners in jail with horrendously long sentences for the most minor of infractions.
Essentially, the bill would impose a 15-year prison sentence for “negligent multiple sales by a dealer,” “negligent gifting” or “negligent raffling.”
Increasingly, there are more and more individuals who are “prohibited persons” for non-violent reasons — for instance, they smoke marijuana or they are military veterans suffering from maladies such as PTSD.
But if S. 443 is passed, any person who sells to such prohibited persons two or more firearms ... or gives them a firearm as a gift ... or raffles a firearm (where they are the recipient) ... does so only at the considerable risk of spending 15 years in a federal penitentiary.
You don’t need to know the person is a prohibited person under either example. Nor does the recipient need to know they’re a prohibited person.
In fact, you don’t need to do anything more than plan (“conspire”) to transfer the gun. In addition, the recipient doesn’t need to be on the NICS list to be a prohibited person.
Not only that, under section 4 of the bill, if you even “intend” to sell a firearm to a person who turns out to be a marijuana smoker — or one of the prohibited military veterans suffering from PTSD — you become a prohibited person yourself.
When all is said and done, this bipartisan “compromise” is as bad as the Feinstein gun ban (S. 150).
Monday, March 04, 2013
Coast Guard, local agencies work to refloat grounded supply vessel
|A oil rig platform supply vessel is grounded off the coast of San Jose Island, Texas, March 4, 2013. The Coast Guard is working with International Offshore Services on a plan to refloat the boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.|
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard and local agencies are working to refloat an oil rig platform supply vessel after it ran aground on San Jose Island, Monday, with four people aboard.
One of the vessel's crewmembers contacted Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi watchstanders to report the incident and to request assistance. No injuries, damage or pollution were reported, but the captain estimated that the vessel had 8,000 gallons of fuel and 110 gallons of lube oil on board.
Coast Guard crews were launched aboard a 45-foot response boat from Station Port Aransas and a HU-25 Falcon jet and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Corpus Christi to assist and evaluate the situation.
"The safety of mariners at sea and maintaining stewardship of the marine environment are critical issues we must consider when attempting any operation," said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, chief of the Sector Corpus Christi response department. "We're working closely with state and local agencies to formulate a plan that would refloat the vessel in the safest and most intelligent way, without causing undue stress on the surrounding environment."
Officials are working with International Offshore Services, in accordance with the boats emergency response plan, on a plan to refloat the vessel.
Assembly Passes Jobs, Clean Water Bills
AB14 (Wisconsin Fast Forward)
AB 14 will provide Wisconsin’s workforce with access to job training resources to prepare them for the jobs of today and tomorrow. State employers have jobs available; however there are not enough skilled workers to fill the positions in these fields. Wisconsin Fast Forward will allow the Department of Workforce Development to award grants for education. As a condition, the DWD may also require matching funds so the grant is an investment rather than a handout of free money.
AB 37/38 (WEDC Funding to Trade Organizations)
AB 37/38 will direct WEDC to conduct in-state trade or marketing forums to bring together manufacturers. WEDC will also be required to award a grant to an association that represents Wisconsin manufacturers to establish a marketing assistance program.
AB 35 (Electrician Licensing and Registration Requirements)
This bill pushes back statutory provisions that would have become law by one year. This pushback gives the legislature an opportunity to address issues that have arisen with the original electrician licensing bill.
SB 10 (Clean Water Fund Program)
Under Senate Bill 10, the Clean Water Fund Program will protect state waters by updating outdated and inflexible rules. The old rules would have prevented essential projects from moving forward because they would not have been eligible for federal funding. In addition, the bill authorizes the Departments of Natural Resources and Administration to provide funding under the Clean Water Fund Program for pilot projects that are consistent with the federal water pollution control program, at no cost to the state.
JFC, Senate Pass Mining Bill
On Monday, the mining bill passed through the Joint Finance Committee on a 12-4 vote.
On Wednesday, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 1 on a 17-16 vote with the only Republican voting against the bill being Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) who crossed party lines as he did last year. Republicans now have a wider, 18-15 majority in the Senate and were still able to pass the “Mining for Jobs” bill that will go to the Assembly floor next week.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP Mining Bill Passes Key Committee
Wisconsin State Journal: Joint Finance Committee Backs GOP Mining Bill
WQOW - Ch. 18: Wis. Budget Panel Approves Mining Bill
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Senate Approves Mine Bill, Sends it to Assembly
Janesville Gazette: Wisconsin Senate Passes Mining Bill
Winona Daily News: Wisconsin Senate Passes Mining Bill After Debate
Assembly Takes Up Mining Wed
A bill to streamline the mining permitting process passed the Senate 17-16 on Wednesday night and will now head to the Assembly for debate. Deliberations are planned to begin at 9:00 am on Thursday, March 7. If interested, you can watch/listen to this debate on Wisconsin Eye @ www.wiseye.org.
The federal sequester cuts, which hit defense hardest but also take a part of discretionary spending including foreign aid and the budget of most federal agencies, add up to $85 billion when pro-rated over a full year. But since the government operates on a fiscal year, actual spending will only fall by $44 billion this year, according to the Congressional Budget.
Washington Post: Congress Heads Out as Sequester Blows In
Washington Times: Sequestration Process Begins
The Hill: Obama: “I am not a Dictator”
Interesting Reads of the Week
Charles Krauthammer: Hail Armageddon
Fox News: Bon Voyage Mr. President
DNR Seeks Public Input on Internal Policy Rules
In an effort to improve transparency and provide more opportunities for the public to give input on key natural resources decisions, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is developing a new process to standardize how the agency develops guidance for complying with state and federal rules and requirements.
“For several months now we’ve heard concerns about a lack of transparency and participation in some of the department’s decision-making,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We’ve developed a new process aimed at alleviating those concerns, a way to develop internal program guidance that includes an opportunity for public comment.”
Programs in the agency develop guidance documents that direct staff on how to approach making decisions when there are not specific details in a law or code. Guidance often informs decisions on permits intended to protect air or water quality and the implementation of fish and wildlife programs.
Stepp said the concerns voiced by agency stakeholders relates to the DNR setting guidance that directly impact various customers without those individuals or businesses either being notified or being able to provide input into the process.
“This new initiative is a major change and promotes participation and transparency,” said Stepp. “While many agency programs involve stakeholders in making decisions, currently there is no consistent formal process that provides an opportunity for all interested parties to participate in developing program guidance. With this initiative, any member of the public will now be able provide input.”
Under the proposed process, new draft guidance documents will be available on the DNR website. There would then be a period during which the affected businesses, municipalities and general public would be able to submit comments on the proposed guidance.
Information on the new guidance development process is available by going to the DNR website and typing in the keywords “program guidance.” An example of program guidance is also posted on that Web page.
The public can comment on the new proposed guidance process until March 22, 2013. After considering all comments, the agency plans to present the new process to the Natural Resources Board in May for approval.
E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker
One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government. I also frequently provide updates on Facebook (Governor Scott Walker) and Twitter (@govwalker). Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.
Avoiding SequestrationLast weekend, I was in Washington DC for the National Governor’s Association (NGA) winter meeting. I had the opportunity to speak with the President and other governors about the fiscal health of the states and country. Unfortunately, Washington seems determined to spend more and more, even at the expense of future generations. The sequestration was the President’s idea two years ago and was negotiated in an effort to avoid a government default.
Unfortunately, we don’t know the effects of the current sequestration cuts. Wisconsin will be able to make it through the sequestration because of the tough, but prudent, decisions made over the past two years and the fact that our financial house is in order.
Washington needs to take this opportunity to decrease spending and get control of the debt. Now is the time to look at bold entitlement reform and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in our federal government, just as we have in Wisconsin.
Middle Class Income Tax CutThere have been a number of news stories discussing the income tax cut I proposed in the state budget. While some individuals may criticize the size of the income tax cut, or exactly what the effect of it will be, it’s important to remember that my proposal is a drastic turn from the budgets of the past. Unfortunately, many of the politicians who are critiquing the details of my middle class income tax are the same individuals who voted to increase taxes, income included, by more than a billion dollars just a few budgets ago.
Instead of debating how much we need to raise taxes to fund the government, I welcome the discussion of how much money we can return to the hardworking taxpayers of our great state.
With that said, the tax cuts I proposed specifically target middle-class taxpayers. The biggest percentage of tax relief, under my plan, is for individuals making between $20,000-60,000 per year. Below is a chart of the effect of my income tax cut proposal.
Senate Passes Mining BillI applaud the Senate for moving quickly to pass mining legislation and I hope the Assembly sends the bill to my desk soon. Reforming current law to allow for a predictable and practical method to obtain a mining permit will help move our state forward.
We have the potential for a billion and a half dollar investment right here in our state that would be a lifeline to the people of Iron County. The benefits will be felt all across Wisconsin. Passing this bill streamlines the process for safe and environmentally sound mining, and could lead to as many as 3,000 construction-related jobs and 2,800 long-term jobs.
I congratulate the Senate on their work to reform the permitting process, while keeping intact the environmental safeguards that protect our air, land, and water resources. I look forward to signing the bill when it gets to my desk.
Governor Scott Walker