On January 25, while Governor Scott Walkerâ€™s State of the State address was greeted with thunderous applause inside the Capitol, I was with this crowd gathered outside at his doorstep. We were voicing our opposition to a mining bill that the Assembly voted on the next day. Bill AB 426 was written by mining interestsâ€”no legislator sponsored the bill. It guts environmental protections and fast tracks Wisconsin's mining permit process to clear the way for Gogebic Taconite to open an iron mine in north-central Wisconsin.
And the bill violates international treaty law. The night was filled with the drums and chanting of Native American tribes who were not even consulted about the permanent damage to their land and water if the mine goes forward. We stood with the tribes in solidarity, just as we have joined with teachers, nurses, firefighters and farmers this past year, carrying signs that say "An Injury to One is an Injury to All".
Bill AB 426 was passed by the Assembly along party lines, although it is hoped that the Senate will stop its progress. The fact remains that the Walker administration has changed our state beyond recognition. Wisconsin has long had a universally respected bi-partisan tradition of protecting the environment for the good of all.
A huge RECALL banner inside the Capitol reminded guests to the State of the State address that over 1 million Wisconsinites have signed a petition to recall Walkerâ€”weâ€™re all hoping it was his last annual address from that office. As the governor's speech began, the noise of the protesters outside his door was deafening.