The Wisconsin Legislature's budget committee has started debating a Republican bill that would overhaul the state's mining regulations.
The measure is designed to clear the regulatory path for Gogebic Taconite's plans for a huge iron mine near Lake Superior. Republicans maintain the mine would create hundreds of jobs. Democrats and environmentalists contend the bill would open the door for pollution that would devastate the pristine area.
Democrats on the committee railed against the bill during a news conference before the committee meeting Monday afternoon. But Republicans control the panel, making passage all but certain. Approval would set up votes in the full state Senate and Assembly. The GOP controls both houses.