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Wisconsin May Prohibit Cities From Regulating Air, Water, Blasting

Communities would be prohibited from regulating air and water pollution, and blasting at quarries, sand mines, and gravel pits under a plan approved by the legislature’s GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee, according to Urban Milwaukee.

The committee approved the plan late last week during consideration of Gov. Tony Evers’s proposed 2019-21 state budget.

There are more than 100 frac sand operations licensed or operating in Wisconsin. About two-dozen of them contributed about $208,900 to legislative and statewide candidates between January 2010 and July 2018. Current legislators received $96,615 of those contributions, and Republican lawmakers, who control the Assembly and Senate, accepted $68,840 of those contributions.

Topping the list of legislative fundraising and candidate campaign committees that received frac sand industry contributions were the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, $9,000; Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $8,550; Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, $5,150; Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $4,500; and GOP Rep. Joan Ballweg of Markesan, $4,250.

The frac sand industry’s top contributors between January 2010 and July 2018 were owners or employees of Mathy Construction, including Steven and LeeAnn Mathy of La Crosse, $33,850; Scott Mathy of Onalaska, $22,150; and William Atterholt of New Richmond, a Mathy vice president, $16,175.

After the committee finishes its work the proposed two-year budget goes to the GOP-controlled legislature for consideration and then back to Evers, who can veto portions of it, for final approval.