GOP Budget Committee Seeks to Restrict Local Control Over Quarries, Sand Mining

June 10, 2019

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.

The committee approved the plan late last week during consideration of Democratic 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.