Statement from Senator Jauch on Committee Passage of Sand Mining Bill
Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) released the following statement on the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue party vote to pass SB 632, legislation that would restrict local government’s ability to regulate sand mining:
“I am very disappointed that the committee acted on this legislation today. Public hearings are held for a reason and the testimony offered should not be ignored by the authors simply because they want to pass the bill. The fact is, the public hearing held on this legislation made it very clear that this bill is not ready to move forward.
The authors of this bill presumed it had strong public support. It clearly does not.
They assumed the communities closest to the issues involved with sand mining would support this bill. They do not.
He believed that the industry could make a compelling case for the need to restrict the authority of local governments. They have not and cannot.
The authors of the bill are using fear mongering to justify legislation that only serves the interests of the sand mining industry while hindering the ability of local governments to serve the needs of their citizens. For example, they continue to claim this bill does not pre-empt any local ordinances, yet the bill does just that by explicitly prohibiting a municipality from using police powers to regulate borrow sites that are associated with DOT projects, something that is allowed under current law and is the only way these municipalities are allowed to regulate these sites.
In his remarks about the bill, Senator Tiffany highlighted several items that are not in this bill but were included in legislation he championed last fall. His refusal to include those provisions in this bill is a clear acknowledgement of the fact that there was widespread opposition to the industry written bill introduced last fall.
During the public hearing on that legislation, everyone agreed that the legislature needed to take a comprehensive look at non-metallic mining regulation. The author was encouraged to take the issue to a legislative study committee, which would be made up of stakeholders from all sides of the issue and would be well suited to make recommendations that would be fair to both the industry and local governments.
Instead of embracing this approach, the author simply re-crafted the bill in consultation with the industry, giving other stakeholders token minor roles in that process. The fact that the Town’s Association Board of Directors so vigorously opposes this bill is a testament to both the failed process and the bill it produced.
During the public hearing on the bill, sand mining industry leaders claimed the bill was necessary to give mining companies some assurances “beyond the next local election.” Instead of proving why this bill is necessary, their comments only served to raise serious questions about why this industry is so fearful of democratic elections.
While this legislation may have been passed by the committee today, I seriously doubt my Republican colleagues in the Senate will follow suit and ignore the concerns raised by local government leaders. Hopefully rejecting this latest effort to restrict local control will send a message to the authors and to the industry that the rights of local governments need to be taken seriously.”