MADISON, Wis. -- Representative Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) released the following statement regarding the aggregate mining clause in the budget:
Over the last few months, a group of legislators has been working on a negotiation between the Aggregate Producers of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Towns Association. The Aggregate Producers were concerned about some towns putting extra regulations on gravel quarries, making it almost impossible to get gravel to road construction projects on time. Both sides negotiated in good faith, and eventually struck a deal that would be included in the budget. In return for this agreement, the Assembly promised there would be good faith efforts in future budgets to get more road aid for local townships – something I’ve been fighting for as well.
Unfortunately, at the last minute, another group tried to include the frac sand mines in the deal. Although it usually makes sense to create laws that apply evenly for similar industries, there were a number of issues that arose when including the frac sand industry that were not only unacceptable to the Wisconsin Towns Association, but also to me personally. One of the proposals that was troublesome was the elimination of property value guarantees. As someone who lives within two miles of a frac sand mine, I believe townships should be able to negotiate agreements that ensure that folks who live nearby will not be harmed by any loss of property value.
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When the negotiations fell apart, the Towns Association alerted its members to what was going on. That is when I heard from many of you, and thank you for reaching out. The message I received was one I already knew: let locals work out their own agreements regarding the frac sand industry. In most cases, especially in Barron County, reasonable heads have prevailed and local leaders and business have come together.
Time was short, but I lobbied industry leaders and legislators, going so far as to send out an alert to all of my colleagues. I felt I needed to put the brakes on this proposal, which was no longer a fair deal. Did I use up some political clout and upset some legislators and leaders by doing this? Absolutely. Did I make the various industry groups mad? You bet. But I did it because it was the right thing to do, and because of these efforts the original compromise was upheld and the frac sand proposal was removed.
When I ran for this seat back in 2014, one of the first listening sessions I held was at the Crossroads Café in Cameron. The main theme that night was the serious concern around the frac sand industry in our area. I made the promise that night that I would always support local control of the frac sand industry even if it made some lobbyists unhappy. I meant it then, and I mean it now.