The legislative committees on mining will vote in early February on whether or not to move forward with the Republican Party proposal.

Both legislative houses’ committees scheduled a Feb. 6 vote on whether to pass the GOP mining bill to the next step of the legislative process. Republicans are eager to pass that bill as soon as possible, but Democrats and environmental groups are concerned there has not been enough public debate on it.

Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, said the bill – which intends to open the state up to iron mining again – has already had large amounts of public input.

As this bill resembles the one that failed by one vote in the Senate last year, Honadel said there has been lots of work and debate over it already, including hearings in northern Wisconsin. He said the Legislature should not “waste that effort.”

“I’ve been in the Legislature a little over 10 years, and I have never seen a bill that has more scrutiny from the public and the Legislature,” Honadel said.

The committees held a hearing last week on the bill, although some criticized them for not holding it in northern Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters disputes Republicans’ statements the bill does not harm the environment, spokesperson Anne Sayers said.

She added the bill is new and should be given enough debate, rather than judging last session’s debate as sufficient.

“This is a new bill and a new session, and we literally had seven days to review a 200-page bill,” Sayers said. “This deserves the time to read it and the opportunity to get input.”