The proposed mining bill has been filling the radio airwaves with proponents making a full court press to pass the Republican version, which is extremely friendly to Gogebic Taconite Company. Let me, for the record, clearly state, I am not opposed to responsible mining and I made a very good living off of the mining industry for thirty years However, I am opposed to getting the short end of the stick when negotiating a deal.
There isn’t a mine anywhere in the world that doesn’t have negative environmental impacts, some better and some worse. Given, that the proposed taconite mine will have minimal and controllable environmental impacts, and then its development should go ahead, but only after a thorough investigation. The state cannot nor should not commit to the mine until after all the studies are completed, including the EPA and Corps of Engineers. Short circuiting the process will only turn around to bite us in the back side.
Another element of the proposed bill is that state taxes will be assessed only on company profits and not ore tonnage produced. This provision will give the company a blatant opportunity to either greatly reduce tax payments or eliminate them altogether. Most states have severance taxes on the resources removed and I don’t know why we would want to be any different.
The bill that I reviewed proposed reducing the tax monies share to the local government for impact from 100% to only 60% with 40% going into the state’s general fund. This seems to be a significant change and I would like to know the rationale behind the proposal. It was my understanding that the current administration and legislature was committed to keeping as much money close to home as possible.
I would rather see no deal at all rather than a bad deal. I really think we are being way to generous with Gogebic.
Something else that I am following is the widespread move by Republican controlled state legislatures wanting to change the “winner take all” Electoral College electors to the Congressional District System like Maine and Nebraska. Since the Republicans controlled the majority of state legislatures after the 2010 elections and had the opportunity to redistrict, after the census, to favor Republicans; they see an opportunity to “jury rig” the selection of Electoral College electors to give them greater advantage in Presidential/Vice Presidential elections.
However, the Electoral College System is an antiquated system and it is high time to eliminate it altogether and elect the President/Vice President by direct popular vote. Forty years ago, we were only a US Senate vote away from the ending the system, but conservative southern senators filibustered the amendment into oblivion and President Nixon pulled his support.
The Congressional District System is seen by the Republicans as a means to offset their general failure to gain the support of Latino voters. As minority communities grow and become influential in deciding future elections, the Republicans generally recognize their vulnerability if they can’t stack the deck in their favor.
My final musing concerns the movement to collect DNA for arrested felons and certain misdemeanor arrests. I can understand why some law enforcement officials would want this information, but as far as I’m concerned it is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. What I find a bit strange is that those who so strongly defend the Second Amendment as it’s written, are so unwilling to equally defend the Fourth.
The creation of this extended data base will allow law enforcement to go on “fishing expeditions” without probable cause, which is required for a search warrant. It is to all our benefit if law enforcement has to play by rules, which support the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. This statute, if enacted, will change the fundamental judicial philosophy and allow if arrested for one thing, then the arrestee will be subjected to a data search that has absolutely nothing to do with what they were arrested for. This is a bad piece of legislation and should be resisted at all levels.